Santee Cooper approves two initiatives to create jobs in South Carolina
Originally published April 29, 2014
The Santee Cooper board of directors on April 25 approved two "site readiness" grant programs totaling $42.5 million that are designed to recruit industry and create jobs in South Carolina. The board also approved a new economic development rate to help attract eligible new or expanded industry by offering savings on their initial electric bills.
A new $2.5-million-a-year Santee Cooper Municipal Site Readiness Fund will offer grants for "high-value projects" in municipalities that Santee Cooper serves as wholesale customers, the state-owned utility said.. A second fund, called the South Carolina Power Team Site Readiness Fund, will award grants totaling up to $6 million a year for high-value projects in areas served by the state's electric cooperatives. Both funds will be available for five years.
"Site selectors have many options in placing a new industry, and Santee Cooper is committed to helping localities stand out from the competition," said Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter. "This money will move projects from almost-ready to open for business," he said. It also will address areas of the state that are most in need of jobs and capital investment, Carter said.
To be eligible, projects must have strong potential for immediate or short-term job creation and capital investment. Eligible projects must be located in high-traffic areas, in areas deemed very marketable, or in areas that are competitively disadvantaged due to lack of ready industrial sites. Grants require a minimum 100 percent match, and all assets funded must be owned by a government entity or subdivision and served by either a South Carolina electric cooperative or municipal customer of Santee Cooper.
The board also approved a new economic development rate for large industry that could lower power bills by as much as 30 percent initially for new or expanding industries with the required minimum of 2 megawatts of new electric load. To qualify, industries must make a $500,000-per-megawatt capital investment or hire at least 50 new employees. The rate is designed to provide the most benefit over the crucial start-up years and gradually taper off over six years, Santee Cooper said. Eligible companies must commit to a 10-year electric contract and other provisions consistent with Santee Cooper's industrial rate schedule.
Santee Cooper already has an economic development rate for industries requiring at least 1 MW of load and employing 35 people or making a $500,000 capital investment. That incentive can lower total bills initially by about 20 percent and tapers off over five years.
"Santee Cooper is building a bold and broad program to create jobs and capital investment across South Carolina," Carter said. "Since 2012, we've loaned nearly $25 million to get new industrial sites going and offered an incentive rate to small industry. Now we can roll out even larger incentives for large industry, along with a 'last-mile' grant program to finish sites for them."
Santee Cooper is South Carolina's largest power producer, and the ultimate source of electricity for 2 million people in the state.
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