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For small communities, loss of power plant jobs makes a big impact on the local economy

Posted at 10:19 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 07:09:06-04

MOSCOW, Ohio — The Zimmer and Miami Fort power plants will close by the end of 2027, according to Vistra Energy Corp. Spokeswoman Miranda Cohn said nearly 300 jobs will be affected by the closures.

“Power plant or no power plant, I think the village will certainly go on,” Moscow village administrator Andrew Gephardt said.

The plant closures come as a big loss for several surrounding communities.

“It’s quiet,” Gephardt said. “Quaint village.”

Moscow is too small to have a stoplight. It’s a river community where life moves at a slightly slower pace.

“A lot of retirees here," Gephardt said.

He said the news that more than 150 jobs will be cut didn’t come as a surprise.

“It’s not something we hadn’t anticipated,” Gephardt said, "the fact that we’ve been losing revenue we’ve been used to over the last few years."

The Zimmer plant has switched hands three times in the last five years. Each time, the property devalued, meaning less real estate tax dollars for Moscow.

“It’s been around this long, and you’re used to what it can bring to the village,” Gephardt said. “It’s not a good thing when it’s closing.”

The plant has supplied jobs and energy to the village for nearly 50 years. Even though it won’t cease operations for at least five years, the impact can be felt already.

“Doing a lot of projects,” Gephardt said. “Offer a lot of services to residents that a lot of communities can’t offer.”

Free trash and sewer as well as no income tax inside the village could soon change. Now village leaders are turning to another shuttered plant downstream to provide a road map for the future.

New Richmond’s Beckjord Power Plant closed in 2015.

“I hate to see it close, hate to see it go,” said Barbara Hannah in 2011. “It’s like losing home sweet home."

Gephardt said the land still has value and they’re hoping another industrial company can move in and take the power plant’s place.

“This area might not be desolate forever,” he said. “It could turn into something that could generate as much revenue as we’re generating now, for sure.”