Saturday, April 19, 2008

"The jobs are simply not there"

A new report was recently released on the proposed Pee Dee Coal plant. You can read it here or read about it below:

New study of proposed Kingsburg plant contradicts FMU study
Economic impact focus of both studies

Friday, Apr 11, 2008 - 02:01 PM Updated: 04:34 PM
By Jamie Durant

FLORENCE — Eastern Carolina Community Development Corp., in conjunction with the Coastal Conservation League, has released a new economic impact analysis on the proposed Santee Cooper coal-fired power plant in Kingsburg.

The results show a marked difference from the economic impact study conducted last year by Francis Marion University, which used data directly from Santee Cooper.

The 600-megawatt plant, called the Pee Dee Energy Campus, is proposed to be located on a 2,709-acre tract along the Great Pee Dee River, is scheduled to become operational sometime after 2012. Although Santee Cooper officials say the plant will be one of the cleanest coal plants in the state, many citizens and conservation groups disagree.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has yet to issue its environmental impact statement regarding the plant.

The Rev. Leo Woodberry, executive director of the Eastern Carolina Development Corp., said he thinks it is no accident that coal plants are commonly located in areas that are primarily black or impoverished.

“When you look at most coal-fired facilities, they are either in people of color’s communities or in very very low income communities,” Woodberry said. “So that was our interest this. We had some questions about that.”

Nancy Cave, North Coast director of the Coastal Conservation League, said she thinks there are safer alternatives to coal that must be considered by Santee Cooper.

“There are alternatives that are being looked, at and what we have to make sure of is that they are being implemented here in South Carolina,” Cave said.

Cave said the report done by FMU was done using information supplied directly by Santee Cooper, but so far, the basis for those numbers have not been released to the public.

“We’re using public information and Santee Cooper is using information they don’t want to share with anybody,” she said. “It’s a matter of transparency.”

The report, compiled and developed by Scott Moore, president of Moore Data, indicated that cost of the proposed power plant would end up being greater Santee Cooper’s projected cost of $1.25 billion, coming in at $1.35 billion.

The total number of jobs the plant would bring to the region was vastly different than in the Santee Cooper/FMU study, as well. The number of jobs brought to the area, according to Santee Cooper and FMU, was roughly 1,200.

According to Moore’s data, the coal plant would only bring an additional 228 jobs to the region, and would result in a local investment of $432 million.

“We commissioned people from the outside to do a peer review,” Moore said. “We wanted to know what people who were clearly not connected with the project thought about our findings.”

Moore said Santee Cooper’s claims of many jobs resulting from the power plant are easily disproved.

Just as race car drivers aren’t needed in Charleston Harbor, but ship captains are, the types of people who are available for work in the Pee Dee would not be qualified to work in the power plant, Moore said.

“The jobs are simply not there,” Moore said.

“This has nothing to do with the quality of the work force in Florence,” he said. “Why would anybody in Florence have the types of skills when we don’t have this type of facility? It’s just common sense.”

“We feel efficiency can happen now, and it can help all the areas of the community faster than any coal plant ever will, ” Cave said.

Turn out for Friday’s announcement of Moore’s study results was much greater, Cave said, than she anticipated.

“We’re very pleased,” she said. “Dr. (Benetha) George said it well, that this is the impetus for a town hall meeting to discuss the coal plant’s impact, particularly on the African-American community. This is the impetus to let them learn and give them a voice about what is right for their community.”

George is a retired physician who grew up in the Pamplico area before moving to Maryland to practice medicine. She said she returned to the Pee Dee and plans to fight against organizations that would cause harm to impoverished people in the region.

“The No. 1, 2 and 3 causes of death (among blacks) are associated with emissions from coal-fired power plants,” she said. “That is not to say coal-fired plants exclusively cause these problems, but they add to it.”

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