Rolling Hills Generating Station Working Toward Expansion

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The Rolling Hills Generating Station in Wilkesville continues to plan for a near-$1 billion expansion, hoping to turn the “on-demand” plant into a full-time station.

The plans are nuanced and several years in the making, but Vinton County officials believe the expansion would create jobs and provide an economic boost to the entire area.

The station is currently considered a “peaker” plant featuring five natural gas turbines, but power is only generated “in times of high energy demand, such as hot or cold days,” the business’ website explains.

The goal is to turn four of those five into steam turbines to create a 1,414 megawatt “combined-cycle” station — this means more power to more people. One of the remaining five would continue on in “peaking” mode.

Vinton County Development Director Terri Fetherolf said this means Rolling Hills can become an energy producer rather than merely “filling a gap.”

Rolling Hills has been working toward receiving governmental approval for the expansion for more than three years. The most recent development is that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is accepting public comment through Dec. 11 regarding a pair of draft Permits-to-Install.

At their regular weekly meeting on Dec. 8, the Vinton County Commissioners alongside Fetherolf agreed to send a letter of support to EPA about the project.

“It’s a big investment and we’re excited about it,” said Commissioner Jerry Zinn, who added the project would make Rolling Hills a “major player in electric.”

Zinn said the project, if approved, would be an investment of at least $700 million, potentially closer to $1 billion.

Rolling Hills estimates the expansion would create 400 construction jobs for a 30-month period. There may also be an additional 25 jobs related to maintenance and operation once everything is built.

The business has been operating in the Wilkesville area since 2003 and is owned by Tenaska Capital Management out of Nebraska. While it could take several more years for the project to be approved and completed, officials say the eventual benefits will be positive for the area.

”We’re just fortunate that (Rolling Hills) had built the peaker plant here,” Fetherolf said. ”25 permanent jobs, that’s a very good thing … for a small community, for a smaller population county, that’s a huge impact.”

Commission President Mike Bledsoe said the county will help make the proposal come to fruition.

“There is no doubt they have our full support,” Bledsoe said. “It’s good for the Wilkesville area, and it’s good for Vinton County.”