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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Let there be power
Jonathan Pait
November 20, 2001

A battle that has been underway for some time is just now beginning to come into the public view. Some residents of the Fork Shoals Road area have been waging a war to stop power plants from being placed in their community.

Certainly, all of us are concerned when we learn that something that appears undesirable wants to move to our neighborhood. However, how often do these newcomers actually live up to their expected undesired consequences? Upstate Common Voice encourages our county government to approve some of the incentives to bring these plants to our area.

I recall when the new jail was being put in near my neighborhood. Many people complained that it would cause the neighborhood to become less secure. Granted when you learn that there are going to be criminals brought into your neighborhood your first thought goes to escaped criminals holding you hostage.

Now years have passed and we see the effect of the project. The area where the jail stands has been landscaped and looks much nicer than before. There are probably more patrol cars going through our neighborhood than most as officers make their way to the offices there. Even the building, though boxy, is kind of cool looking.

The bottom line is that the fears many sought to use in order to "emotionalize" the issue have not been realized. This will most likely be the same conclusion when it comes to these power plants. Here is why.

My personal experience with one of these companies has been very positive. Before moving to Greenville, I lived in a rural area of North Carolina. The town where we did our shopping had a plant built by Cogentrix, one of the companies considering the building of a plant in our area.

The plant received the same type of opposition we see today. However, the plant was allowed. What happened? Well, for the most part you couldn't tell anything happened. Cogentrix bought a large amount of land surrounding the area. Off of the main highway, they took a rather run down stretch of highway on the edge of the city limits and gave it a great face-lift for the entry to the plant.

At the right angle you could look down the drive and see the plant itself. Sure you could see a "smoke-stack" back there, but rarely, if ever did you actually see any smoke. Over the decade or more the plant has been there, no reports of environmental damage have surfaced. The town has grown up with more business and residential lots appearing on the main highway. However, that property purchased by Cogentrix remains wooded.

Here is the point. Thanks to residents being concerned about the effect these plants may have on their area, these companies have had to become more responsible to their neighbors and the environment. All you have to do is go on a hike in the Jocasse Gorge area to see that Duke Power has actually been a help to the environment--not a destroyer.

The protesting residents should be heard. Their concerns should be considered. Cogentrix and the others need to take heed to what they say and be prepared to be a good neighbor. However, the deal should go through. In the end, we may find that what was feared might be forestalled by allowing these businesses to become responsible members of our community.

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