Plans Emerge for Geneva Plant

Plans Emerge for Geneva Plant

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John Hollenhorst ReportingBig moves are afoot that are clearly putting the final nail in the coffin for Geneva Steel. But the future of Geneva's huge property in Utah County is far from certain.

It now seems certain the plant itself is history. Much of the equipment will be sold to a steel operation in China. But its not clear who will wind up owning the land or what they'll do with it.

Many laid-off workers dreamed the bankrupt plant might someday reopen. But from a hard-nose business point of view, Geneva is worth more dead than alive. That's because there's 1800 acres of land, in the midst of a metro area, with freeway access, rail service and even lakefront lots.

Former BYU Athletic Director Rondo Fehlberg is part of a group of investors who will make an offer to Geneva's creditors Friday to buy the entire property.

Rondo Fehlberg, Development Partner: "We think we have a great vision and that there's a way to bless not just Utah County but to make it profitable."

The concept is similar to plan announced exactly a year ago, the so-called BlueLynx project. It's a mix of light industry and commercial development as well as residential and recreational amenities.

Fehlberg: "But the most important thing is that we replace the jobs that have been lost at Geneva with jobs that will last--clean, light high-tech manufacturing type jobs that will stabilize the base of Utah County."

But Fehlberg and his partners are in competition with Geneva managers who want to develop the property themselves. Geneva's creditors will decide whose proposal stands the best chance of paying off $130 million in debts.

Both groups may accept the most dramatic development proposal: an 800 Megawatt power plant fueled by natural gas. State regulators ay it would be much cleaner than a coal-fired plant or the defunct steel mill.

Regg Olsen, Utah Div. of Air Quality: "The net impact to the airshed in the area should be cleaner than what it has been in the past."

The power plant is proposed by a California energy company called CalPine, which is in negotiations with Utah Power's parent company. It's expected that if the plant is built, most of the electricity would be used right here on the Wasatch Front.

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