Duke Energy to help prepare site for economic development

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By Stan Welch

As one Anderson County property begins the process of site certification for economic development, another site is about to be decertified.

Duke Energy Carolinas has chosen a 48-acre site near Anderson to participate in the utility’s 2013 Site Readiness Program to prepare the location for potential industrial development. The Coleman site has direct access to Interstate 85 at Exit 21 and is fairly close to the Georgia state line.

However a site in the Williamston-Piedmont area, which has already been certified but has not been developed, may not be recertified.

The Betsy Tucker site, consisting of more than five hundred acres at the junction of I-85 and Highway 81 North, is in the final year of a five year certification.

The site underwent the certification process almost five years ago, but the current economic climate makes it problematic to recertify, as is required. The cost to do so is approximately $30,000.

The criteria for certification are heavily weighted towards infrastructure elements, such as adequate transmission lines, adequate water supply for both fire suppression and industrial use, and good roads.

Since the physical presence of the elements is more important than the official acknowledgment of those elements’ presence at the site, recertification may not be pursued by the county at this time.

Officials are betting the new site, further south on I-85, will pay off.

Duke Energy’s Site Readiness Program is designed to help communities served by the utility compete for new companies and jobs.

“We are thrilled that Duke Energy has picked this location for the Site Readiness Program. It puts this area on a fast track for marketing,” said Burriss Nelson, president and CEO of the Anderson Economic Development Corporation.

Nelson told The Journal that the County contributed approximately $1,000 to the site assessment.

“Duke will produce an engineered site assessment valued at approximately $25,000 which will involve a number of factors, such as wetlands assessments, grading issues, facility location and other concrete details about the possible use of the site,” said Nelson.

Duke Energy will work with professional land-use planners to develop conceptual plans for the site. Duke Energy, McCallum Sweeney and the planners will present recommendations in a final report to Anderson County leaders.

“There are many factors that influence manufacturing companies considering a site location. Low-cost electric service and access to transportation infrastructure are always at the top of that list,” said Steve West, Duke Energy’s economic development manager for Anderson County.

After the site’s state of readiness has advanced, Duke Energy’s Business Development Team will actively market the site nationwide to companies looking to expand or relocate their operations.