University breaks ground on energy facility

Center could lead to thousands of jobs

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. --- Clemson University broke ground Thursday on a nearly $100 million center to test wind turbines, a facility that eventually could lead to thousands of new jobs for South Carolina.

A crowd of about 500 looked on as officials inside a warehouse at the old Charleston Naval Base dug into orange-dyed dirt as the university fight song played.

Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic U.S. Rep. James Clyburn joined Clemson University President James Barker and other officials for the event.

"South Carolina can combine the strengths of its top-ranked research university with its manufacturing sector to catapult the state into a leading role in the nation's emerging and important wind-power industry," Barker told the gathering.

The work begins with renovating an old Naval base warehouse into the wind turbine research facility. Last year, the federal Energy Department gave Clemson $45 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The state and private donors provided another $53 million.

The center at the Clemson Restoration Institute is expected to begin operating in 2012. It will test drive trains that take the energy generated by a wind turbine's blades and drive electrical generators.

John Kelly, a Clemson vice president and executive director of the Restoration Institute, said the state is positioned to become an industrial hub for the growing wind energy industry.

"It's difficult to overstate what this facility represents for South Carolina," Kelly said. "From an economic development standpoint, the testing facility will bring statewide benefits."

While the center will employ about 20 people to begin, officials estimated last year that the center will lead to more local jobs.

The Energy Department has estimated that the wind industry in South Carolina could eventually provide anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 jobs.

The university's partners in the project include the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority as well as the state Department of Commerce.

Others include South Carolina Public Railways, the South Carolina State Ports Authority and private partners including RENK AG, Tony Bakker and James Meadors.

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gaspringwater 10/28/10 - 11:50 pm
5 May 2009 The nation’s top

5 May 2009
The nation’s top power industry regulator on Tuesday suggested that U.S. utilities don’t need to build big nuclear or coal-fired power plants to fill the nation’s future power supply needs. Instead, Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said future electricity demand growth can be met with a low-emission supply from wind, solar and other renewable sources, combined with more efficient use of all sources of electricity. “We have the potential in the country, we just have to go out and get it,” Wellinghoff said at a briefing with reporters at the American Wind Energy Association’s conference in Chicago, monitored by telephone.

ameliaf 10/29/10 - 02:17 pm
Good for Clemson and South

Good for Clemson and South Carolina.

But, I wonder how Graham reconciles this federal and state largesse to basic research on power generation. I mean, isn't it a Republican premise that we should leave development of new things to the private sector? He didn't support Obama when he put forth ideas about funding research into "alternative" sources of energy. Well, actually he did at first and then got terribly quiet.

Oh, and the money came from the Energy Department, one of those departments many Republicans are saying can be done away with.

Or is it just pork? Or, will the private partners really end up owning the technology and wouldn't that be a sweet deal to get federal and state money to avoid the risk of a startup technology?

Or is it the typical Republican plow of having it both ways - don't vote for funding but when it is funded, get credit for getting that money for your state.

All this aside, this is exactly what can produce a future for South Carolina, jobs for the future. I am just pointing out how two faced we can be in shouting how bad all this federal spending is, how bad Obama is for wanting to invest in new sources of energy, how bad the Energy Department is - until it is our turn.

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