Empower Goose Creek: Discussion continues for a city-owned utility company

Berkeley County News

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – Goose Creek residents will vote on whether they want to start a city-owned electric utility in 18 days. The utility would only serve power to the Century Aluminum plant property.

The plant manager said this is an important vote for Century.

One of the things they are doing is hosting catered dinner town hall meetings. The first takes place at the Planter’s Walk Clubhouse in Crowfield Thursday night.

“Obviously the big thing is it’s going to increase Goose Creek tax revenue by $1 million in property taxes and business license fees; it’s going to be a huge win for the citizens of Goose Creek,” said Dennis Harbath, Plant Manager for the Century Mt. Holly Plant.

If the referendum passes, city council could then annex the Century property. That is how the additional tax dollars would be generated.

“For Century aluminum, it allows us to purchase power on the open market. Which would help us out a lot.”

Harbath says electricity is one of their biggest expenses.

“Mount Holly, 40% of our cost associated with production is tied into power.”

They shut half the plant down in 2015 due to power costs. They could go back to full production and hire 300 people back if they can get cheaper electricity.

You may have seen signs, billboards or even postcards in the mail offering free dinner from “Citizens to Empower Goose Creek.” Century has paid the full $9,761.04 of that organization’s costs. An employee of a marketing firm hired by Century is the group’s treasurer.

Harbath said Century is using that group to get the word out about the referendum.

“What it is designed to do is get the facts out to people, explain to them how the million dollars is going to be generated, how the electric utility’s going to help the city of goose Creek.”

Four town hall meetings, including free dinner paid by Century, are being held.

“It’s allowing them to come out and speak with Mayor Habib about the issue and ask their questions – that’s what it’s designed to do.”

As far as costs to the city, only the cost of the referendum election of about $8-$10,000 is being paid by the city. Harbath says all other costs are being paid by Century, and Century will pay future costs in their electric bill to the city.

The postcard does say you need the postcard as your ticket for dinner. Thursday night’s meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Planter’s Walk Clubhouse. There are three other similar dinner meetings at different locations next Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

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