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Duke expected to make corporate decision soon

Corporate approval of Duke Energy’s proposed power plant in Hamilton Township could come this month – the final step in the $500 million project that will provide hundreds of construction jobs and help pay off the new Rock Hill schools.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Corporate approval of Duke Energy’s proposed power plant in Hamilton Township could come this month – the final step in the $500 million project that will provide hundreds of construction jobs and help pay off the new Rock Hill schools.

"We’re very close to receiving final board approval within two weeks," said Chuck Claunch, Duke’s director of project development.

The energy corporation’s board meets next on Oct. 23, and has set its final meeting for Oct. 30, Claunch said.

"If all goes well, we should be making an announcement and scheduling a groundbreaking for early November," Claunch said.

Because of the upcoming board meeting, which was originally scheduled for early October, Claunch and other company representatives could not attend Wednesday’s "Project Pride County Wide" showcase sponsored by the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce.

"We want to explain why we weren’t there, and it’s actually good news," Claunch said.

Duke began work on a natural gas fired power plant more than a year ago, when it talked with American Electric Power about an "interconnect agreement" to use the Hanging Rock substation, he said.

After a February public meeting, work began with the LEDC, county commission and state regulators.

The company passed its first hurdle in September – a tax break agreement, Ohio Power Siting board approval and other state permitting.

"We still need internal approval, and this is an important board meeting on Oct. 23," Claunch said Wednesday. "We’re not there today because we’re busy with four working days prior to the board meeting where more than a year’s worth of work is coming to a head. Hopefully, our lack of attendance will be offset by an announcement later."

Chamber and LEDC executive director Pat Clonch, called Duke’s upcoming board meetings good news.

"I think that project is a go," she said.

And, Lawrence County can look forward to even more good news, considering the attention given to The Point by the corporate world.

The Point, the LEDC’s 504-acre industrial park in South Point, has two new clients now, and more companies have expressed an interest, Mrs. Clonch said.

"If you count up what jobs all inquiries would bring if companies became a reality in the park, it would total about 2,000," she said.

Those jobs won’t all appear, but the LEDC and park manager Roger Haley are continuing the long-term porocess to bring some of them here, Mrs. Clonch added.

Few industrial parks in the nation, let alone the state, have as much frontage on two major highways and a rail line like The Point’s.

"We definitely have some serious interest," she said.

Chamber officials don’t like to estimate, or talk about timeframes, Mrs. Clonch added.

"But by this time next year, I think we’ll be looking at each other and saying, ‘How are we going to keep up with the work (for clients in the Point),’" she said. "Good things are happening."