Port Authority Attorney: Tanners Creek Plant Not Ruled Out As Fourth Port Site
By Mike Perleberg
Ports of Indiana continues to study the viability of establishing a fourth port in southeast Indiana. One potential site is the shuttered AEP Tanner’s Creek power station (shown) in Lawrenceburg.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – The Fourth Port Plan still has momentum.
That’s according to the attorney for the Southeast Indiana Regional Port Authority. Jeff Stratman said at the SIRPA board’s meeting on Friday, April 15 that the port authority should be a partner, not a roadblock, for a potential project by Ports of Indiana to place an industrial port somewhere on the Ohio River in southeast Indiana.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced plans for the state’s fourth port to be placed in our region during his State of the State address last January. Ports of Indiana has yet to announce an exact site for the potential port as the corporation is still conducting studies.
“I don’t know if it will be weeks. It maybe months. I don’t think it’s going to be years… …I’m basing that partially on the politics of the situation,” Stratman said in response to a question from the port authority board about a timeline for Ports of Indiana to name a location.
SIRPA chairman Shane McHenry, a Dearborn County Commissioner, said the local group should wait to see about the state’s timeline before determining what to do.
McHenry stressed that SIRPA is not trying to compete with any local businesses.
“We want to be a partner to local businesses and just figure out a way that we can help further economic development opportunities. We’re not here to make money for the port authority,” McHenry said.
While Ports of Indiana has not tipped its hand at where it’s fourth port will be located, there has been plenty of speculation that the site of the American Electric Power Tanner’s Creek Station in Lawrenceburg is a potential placement. AEP shut down generators at the coal-fired plant last May as part of a company-wide effort to meet federal EPA standards on emissions.
“We’ve known from the first study that AEP is a potential site for the Ports of Indiana. Although nobody is admitting that is a prospective site, nobody is ruling it out either,” Stratman said.
SEIRPA board member Tom Schneider, chairman of the City of Lawrenceburg’s Board of Zoning Appeals, says old coal piles at the power plant have been removed.
River front land in Ohio County may be another area of interest in the Fourth Port Plan.
In other SIRPA news, the cooperative authority may soon count Greendale among its ranks. While Dearborn County, Lawrenceburg, and Aurora have been members of SIRPA since it formed in 2013, Greendale – a city with no significant Ohio River frontage – has been a holdout. Stratman told the board Friday that discussions with Greendale’s new city administration center on how much representation the city would have on the SIRPA board.
Friday’s meeting was likely the last with the local port authority for Stratman, who also serves as the City of Aurora’s city attorney. He has taken a job in Arizona and will be relocating there in the next month or two.
Schneider said Stratman’s involvement in SIRPA has been critical, especially the relationships he has formed with Ports of Indiana.
“It’s been really enjoyable to be involved with this. There are a lot of things I’m going to miss, but January and February are not going to be among them,” Stratman laughed as the meeting came to a conclusion.