Painesville City Council approves power plant, rental registration legislation

Jan. 8—In its final meeting of 2022 and its first meeting of the new year, Painesville City Council adopted legislation to assume shares in a Fremont power plant and change rental registration fees for 2023.

As previously reported by The News-Herald, the power plant agreement would see Painesville assume a 5.7 megawatt share in the American Municipal Power Fremont Energy Center.

Electric Superintendent Jeff McHugh said at the time that the proposal follows recommendations from consultants and signs that the boilers at Painesville's coal plant are starting to age. The shares will come from Hamilton, a city in southwest Ohio.

McHugh provided council with additional information at its Dec. 19 meeting. He noted that the plant, which started in 2012, "is now going on 10 years, almost 11 years of no lost time or OSHA-related accidents" while it has "consistently returned millions of dollars of transmission and capacity savings to all the participants."

The natural gas plant has also generated more than 32 million megawatt hours in its lifetime, which he said "is a good-sized number."

"It's environmentally compliant," he added. "There have been no issues regarding exhaust gasses or anything of that nature."

He noted that the plant's current power sales contract is set to run through 2047.

"The pricing is projected through 2024-2028 at $52 a megawatt hour," McHugh said.

He added that AMP, the AMP Fremont Energy Center's Participants Committee and Hamilton had all passed or begun to discuss legislation to approve the agreement.

McHugh previously said that Painesville will not pay to acquire Hamilton's shares, though it will be committed to purchasing 5.7 megawatts from the plant as long as it owns the shares.

He added that the cost of energy from the Fremont plant is below market value and the purchase of the station should allow the Electric Division to lower the amount of peak energy it needs to purchase.

Painesville City Council approved the agreement at a Dec. 21 special meeting in a 6-0 vote, with Councilman Mario Rodriguez excused on leave.

Meanwhile, council unanimously approved legislation at its Jan. 3 meeting that will change the deadline and process for owners to register rental properties.

As previously reported by The News-Herald, Code Enforcement Supervisor Larry Armstrong said that the first proposed change will move the three-year property registration deadline from Feb. 15 to March 15, starting with the 2023-26 cycle. Owners will also now be required to register separately for each rental property.

The city implements the registration process so that it can reach the people who are responsible for rental properties in the event of problems, said City Manager Doug Lewis at the Jan. 3 meeting.

"That's the main thing that we need to get, their name, phone number, email address, so that if there is an issue, rather than issue a citation, we're able to call them and have them manage their own property rather than have the city just issue violations," he explained.

Armstrong added that the process is helpful in the event of property transfers.

"Obtaining their contact information, management information, that's the point behind it all," he said. "We don't always get notified in a timely manner from the auditor's office. So, they could be 60, 90 days transferred and we don't know who owns it," he said.

Armstrong previously told council that if the same properties are registered, the city will receive about $41,000 in rental fees in 2023 as compared to around $38,000 in 2020. A property with one to 10 units will have a registration fee of $30, a property with 11-50 rental units will have a fee of $50, and a property with 51 or more will have a registration fee of $150.