• 39°

Community comes out for groundbreaking for Duke plant

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Elected officials and county dignitaries gripped shovels Tuesday, ceremoniously kicking off Duke Energy’s $600 million power plant project.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Elected officials and county dignitaries gripped shovels Tuesday, ceremoniously kicking off Duke Energy’s $600 million power plant project.

"It’s the finest thing that’s happened here in a good while," county commission president Paul Herrell said, referring to the county’s run of bad economic luck in recent years’ plant closings.

Herrell, together with Hamilton Township trustees, Rock Hill superintendent Lloyd Evans and school board members and others, herald Duke as one of the first major turnarounds coming to Lawrence County.

"They will bring a lot of jobs with them and, being here, will attract more companies," Herrell added.

By Duke’s own admission, where thousands of megawatts of electricity is generated, industry follows.

Add another natural gas fired power plant like Calpine Inc.’s, also scheduled to begin construction this year in Hamilton Township, and the county’s economic odds improve even more, Herrell said.

"We threw the red carpet out for them, to get them here; they will be here for a long time; and we’re tickled to death to be here," he said after Tuesday’s groundbreaking.

The ceremony was followed in the evening by an informal social for Duke’s guests at the Grandview Inn, a "glad to be here event," corporate officials said.

Prior to pictures around the shovels, though, local officials got a glimpse of construction drawings.

Earth-moving equipment has been working at the site for awhile; some materials are being moved in; and AEP is continuing work on the interconnection to its nearby electrical substation.

Construction will employ hundreds of workers. Duke should be making power as early as June 2003, employing about 30 people full-time, most from the local area.

But even before the switch is thrown, the county will reap the benefits of the power plant.

In November this year, a $3.7 million payment – part of a locally negotiated tax break agreement – will be made to Rock Hill School District, which will pay off the school’s recent construction bonds.

"The thing I’m really concerned about is our kids, our future," Rock Hill board member Wanda Jenkins said.

Duke’s tax incentive payment will benefit children in the area, she said, adding that it’s great news.

"And, we’re way past due."