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Township area attracts a second power plant

HANGING ROCK – More than 150 residents, local officials and union workers gathered Thursday night to hear Duke Energy introduce its proposal to build a natural gas fired power plant in Hamilton Township.

Friday, February 16, 2001

HANGING ROCK – More than 150 residents, local officials and union workers gathered Thursday night to hear Duke Energy introduce its proposal to build a natural gas fired power plant in Hamilton Township.

It’s the second such company attracted by the availability of natural gas and river water and AEP’s high-energy transmission lines in the township. CME North American Merchant Energy, now partnered with Calpine Inc., announced a similar project more than six months ago.

Duke representative Chuck Claunch told residents the company is the 10th largest energy company in the world, and compared its Hamilton Township plans to its Marietta power plant built last year.

At the hearing, Duke’s project won support from area union workers, who say its construction companies have used local workers in the past.

Several union representatives and the Tri-State Building and Construction Trades Council, the majority of those who spoke, pledged support.

School officials also registered support, giving both plants a thumbs up.

"We’re very excited about the possibility of economic growth – the jobs and the amount of money for labor and capital outlay is very important for this district," Rock Hill Schools superintendent Lloyd Evans said.

Both plants would increase tax revenue for the district, although the companies want tax incentives.

"I also would like to see a second plant built," Evans said. "As far as my position as superintendent, the more the better."

The power plant proposal comes with some concern, especially because of that two-plant scenario.

Resident Tom Belville said Goldcamp property owners are concerned because Calpine indicated it might pull out if another power plant is nearby.

"Hamilton’s blessed but there are deep concerns," Belville said, indicating Calpine wants to break ground in October.

"I think you should address these concerns and not lose them," he said, speaking to the audience.

Claunch said the two projects in the same area can both move forward.

AEP’s substation has the largest electric lines available, there’s enough natural gas and water, and there is plenty of "environmental room" for two plants to operate under air standards, he said.