New power plant pumps electricity, money into county
Dec 04, 2012 (The Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
KINGS MOUNTAIN -- A new plant will light thousands of homes and help power Cleveland County's economy for decades to come.
Southern Power's new natural gas-fueled plant began operation this week southwest of Kings Mountain -- revving up equipment capable of providing electricity to 350,000 residential customers throughout the region.
The beginning of the power company's operation in the county is among a long line of industrial financial investments this year, including AT&T's new data center in Kings Mountain ($850 million) and Schletter Inc.'s solar-panel mounting system plant in west Shelby ($27 million).
Companies have committed nearly $1 billion and created about 800 jobs in the county this year.
"We're about partnerships in this county," said Cleveland County Commissioner Johnny Hutchins. "Partnering with companies like Southern is a win for the county for years to come."
Southern Company first announced its plans to locate in the county in June 2008, according to the Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership. That was the same year Duke Energy announced a $1.8 billion modernization project at its Cliffside plant.
The company has committed an investment of more than $330 million into the local economy, including $30 million in new state and local tax revenue in the next 20 years.
"We greatly appreciate the partnership with the community and economic development in Cleveland County," Southern Power President and CEO Oscar Harper said Tuesday. "As the economy recovers, we would love to expand on the site, and we have room. That would mean additional jobs and tax revenue."
Reach Matthew Tessnear at 704-669-3331, at email@example.com or on Twitter @MatthewTessnear.
What they're saying about the new power plant
"This represents over $300 million in investments to this community and this state. It represents jobs -- 300 workers at the height of construction and eight full-time workers at the plant. It represents an ongoing financial partnership with the community here in Cleveland County."
-- Oscar Harper, president and CEO, Southern Power
"Domestic manufacturing continues to fight its way back. Having a pro-business climate that is environmentally friendly is important. The population is growing, and the demand is for reliable electricity. (Southern) can provide that."
-- Rick Murphrey, mayor of Kings Mountain
"Southern is a 100-year-old company as of Jan. 5, so they're here to stay. We certainly appreciate the construction jobs they created, and partnering with companies like Southern is a win for years to come."
-- Johnny Hutchins, Cleveland County commissioner
Plant Cleveland, Southern Power Company
What is it A new power plant located just off I-85 southwest of Kings Mountain and east of Grover
How many people can it serve The plant is equipped to produce about 720 megawatts of power, or enough to serve about 350,000 residential customers, according to company officials.
Plant Cleveland will provide power to those customers through contracts with North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation and North Carolina Municipal Power Agency Number 1.
The membership corporation supplies energy for the majority of the state's energy cooperatives, which provide energy to 2.5 million people in 93 of the state's 100 counties.
The municipal agency includes 19 municipalities in western North Carolina.
How does it work The plant runs off natural gas, producing electric power transmitted to lines that connect to Duke Energy's power grid and then to customers.
The generating plant on a 275-acre site in Kings Mountain runs on four Siemens turbines that produce the power.
Other than power, how does it benefit Cleveland County Southern Company has made a total investment of more than $300 million into the local economy and is expected to contribute $30 million in new state and local tax revenue in the next 20 years.
Source: Southern Company
Plant Cleveland development timeline
2008 -- Southern Power announces plans to locate a new plant in Cleveland County
2009 -- Company starts underground construction at its 275-acre site near Kings Mountain
2010-2011 -- Construction on the above-ground power units
July 2012 -- Testing on the plant's units
Dec. 1, 2012 -- Plant operation begins
About Southern Power
-- One of the largest wholesale energy providers in the Southeast
-- Based in Atlanta, Ga.
-- Supplies 43,000 total megawatts of power to 4.4 million customers through 10 plants in seven states, including North Carolina
-- Company also owns electric utilities in four states, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications
Major economic investments
Southern Company announced its Cleveland Plant power project in June 2008. The plant began operating Saturday, and officials say the company will pump more than $300 million into the county's economy. Here's a look at other companies that have made major financial investments in the county this year.
Baldor January $17 million
Kendrion February $7.5 million
AT&T February $850 million
Steag April $3 million
Greenheck June $7.8 million
Badger June $1 million
Cleveland Yutaka August $5 million
Schletter August $27 million
Stout Brewing October $6 million
Source: Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership
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