Councilman discusses two local projects with federal officials

January 29, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

First Ward City Councilman Kevin Johnson returned this past week from eight days in Washington D.C. where he met with Sixth District Representative Bill Johnson, Second District Representative Brad Wenstrup, Senator Rob Portman, Senator Sherrod Brown and their staffs, as well as key staff members from the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Dianne Feinstein. One of the subjects for discussion was the proposed New Steel plant planned for Franklin Furnace.

“All of them were very excited about the fact that they would be bringing that technology into the United States,” Johnson said. “None of this is new technology. It has been used in Europe, predominantly in the Netherlands and in Germany. But what it is, is it’s the first time all of these technologies would be used at one time at one site in the United States, especially with the co-generating of electricity, and using what is called the “new steel,” a very hard industrial steel that can be used even to make a nuclear plant.”

New Steel International CEO John Shultes and other New Steel leaders are traveling to Europe this week essentially to talk about financial support. One of the companies they are scheduled to meet with is international giant Siemens. Siemens is a global powerhouse in electronics, electrical engineering, and other industries. The plan is to build the plant at Franklin Furnace, and bring a stronger yet lighter steel to the U.S.

“It’s interesting that with our military, and with the reactors on our military ships, we have to import all of that (new steel) from Germany,” Johnson said. “That’s not how we should be spending our military dollars, so New Steel would have the capability of doing that.”

Johnson said he learned a lot in his meetings with government legislative leaders. One of the points of discussion centered around the proposed $2 billion loan guarantee being applied for by USEC for the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon.

“There’s a lot more to what’s going on with USEC than most of us really know,” Johnson said. “Some positive. Some not so. And I’ll leave it at that. I think it’s workable, but it’s going to take time.”

While USEC continues to seek a $2 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, USEC is partnering with the DOE to continue to work on the centrifuge program through the $350 million RD&D (Research, Development and Demonstration) project in hopes it will eventually lead to the loan guarantee for the ACP.

Congress recently cleared another $150 million for the project, which eventually could create some 4,000 jobs in southern Ohio.

Additionally, USEC is finalizing a sale of NAC International, which representatives of USEC say will improve its financial standing when the DOE loan application is revisited later this year.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com.