COSHOCTON — Three towering concrete stacks that were the most visual reminders of Conesville’s defunct coal-fired power plant came down Sunday morning, the next step in creating prime space for the development of a new industrial park.
The 805-foot structures loomed over the Conesville Power Plant, a 2,085-megawatt power generation facility, which closed in May of 2020. Standing since 1957, the towers were a symbol of economic stability from a plant that at its peak employed 525 people and 150 contractors. Also demolished were two large boilers, known as units five and six.
The Frontier Group of Companies took over the site in June and announced its plans for the Conesville Industrial Park in August. Plans include a 50-megawatt solar array. Officials at the time said demolition of structures and remediation of the land will take about seven years.
“Preparing a former power plant site for reuse is a complex, multi-year process that includes decommissioning the existing plant, removing contamination, razing structures and ultimately collaborating with local, state and federal officials to create and implement a redevelopment plan,” said Frontier Group CEO David Franjoine in a press release.
Franjoine did not give specifics in the release, but said investors have been visiting the site regularly to consider it for a variety of business and manufacturing uses. Sen. Jay Hottinger said while it might be sad to see the stacks come down, they signal important economic development.
“As the stacks come down in Conesville, it is a bittersweet moment for the community. While many may miss the long-standing physical presence of this prominent community landmark and what it represented, today is a very exciting new beginning and revival in Coshocton County,” Hottinger said in the release. “I recently had the opportunity to tour the site of the facility and to visit with the new owners and their senior management, who have game-changing plans for the remediation, restoration, rebuild and revitalization of the property.”
Mayor Marge Donley of Conesville also remembers the plant stacks as an image that has defined the village’s public image.
“My young grandsons have always known when we were close to home while traveling in the car. As soon as they saw the stacks, they knew it was just a few minutes until they were home,” she said in the release. “The landscape will definitely change without the vision of the stacks. The Conesville Power Plant provided stability in our community that I hope to see return with The Frontier Groups of Companies’ plans to revitalize the land.”
Business Development Director Pat Ford of Frontier Group said as the AEP Conesville repurposing project moves forward, the plan will include an end game based on Frontier’s extensive experience with the redevelopment of brownfields.
“In some cases, factories and retired power plants have been closed and left abandoned for years or decades, creating blight while representing stark reminders of missed opportunities,” Ford said. “While our demolition crews do their work to revive the property, our role is to engage the community and conduct a market analysis to help clarify the vision for redevelopment. This site has the benefit of a great location and existing infrastructure and is nestled in a labor pool that is complete with a ready, skilled and reliable workforce.”
Founded in 2001, the Frontier Group of Companies brings together strategically aligned businesses with expertise and capabilities in the area of large-scale industrial and commercial facility reuse, repurposing and redevelopment. The companies of the Frontier Group include industry leading operations for industrial demolition, industrial dismantling, asset recovery, equipment repurposing, industrial cleanup, site remediation, brownfield redevelopment, facility acquisition, real estate development, energy exploration, energy production and materials recycling.