Santee Cooper OKs job-creating initiatives

Staff Report
Published April 28, 2014

The Santee Cooper board on Friday approved two site readiness grant programs totaling $42.5 million aimed at attracting capital investment and creating jobs across South Carolina.

In addition, the board signed off on a discounted rate to help attract eligible new or expanded industry by offering savings on their initial electric bills.

The grants, which come from the S.C. Power Team Site Readiness Fund, will total up to $6 million a year for high-value projects in areas served by the state’s 20 electric cooperatives.

In addition, a $2.5 million-per-year Santee Cooper Municipal Site Readiness Fund will offer grants for high-value projects in municipalities served as wholesale customers by Santee Cooper. Both funds are 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 Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and CEO. “This money will move projects from almost-ready to open-for-business.”

To be eligible for the grants, projects must show “strong potential” for immediate or short-term job creation and capital investment, the state-operated utility said.

Eligible projects must be 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% match, and all assets funded must be owned by a government entity or subdivision and served by either an electric co-op or municipal customer of Santee Cooper.

The board also OK’d a new economic development rate for large industry that could lower power bills by as much as 30% initially for new or expanding industries with the required minimum of 2 megawatts of new electric load.

To qualify, industries must also 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 startup years and gradually taper 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 currently 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. Initially, the incentive can trim total bills by about 20% and tapers off over five years.

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