The Clinton City Council heard updates from its electricity supplier and agreed to adopt proclamations for February as Black History Month and American Heart Month during its Feb. 6 meeting.
The General Manager of the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency (PMPA) Andy Butcher discussed agency accomplishments, the Catawba Nuclear Plant, and the future with the council. Clinton, Laurens, Newberry and other cities form the PMPA alliance to own a share of the Catawba plant, which came on-line in 1986 and is expected to last until 2060.
Butcher said the plant generates enough power for 1.7 Million homes in North and South Carolina without the carbon residue generated by goal and natural gas fired power plants. It has operated so efficiently, Butcher said, that PMPA has not passed along a rate increase since 2015 and the agency does not expect a rate increase to be passed on to member cities at least through 2029. The cities will have to decide where to buy supplemental power after 2030 and what to do about the Catawba plant after 2035, when contracts expire.
The City of Clinton, and others, buy electricity from PMPA and re-sell it at a slight profit to its electric customers - this profit supplements property taxes as a way to provide city services.
Until recently, Clinton had some of the highest electric rates in the state, but that has been surpassed by other utilities relying on price-increasing natural gas.
Butcher said wind and solar should be part of the nation’s energy equation, but he added that these generate power just 30 - 40% of the time, whereas the Catawba Plant produces nuclear-fired electricity 91-92% of the time. Outages are rare, Butcher said.
“(With) wind and solar you need to build twice as much to equal Catawba (nuclear),” he said.
In other business, the council recognized Azalee Floyd, the recipient of a recent state proclamation of accomplishment introduced by State Senator Danny Verdin. It commends Floyd for her long-time work as a nurse and her healthcare service to the people of South Carolina.
“This honor not only goes to me, it goes to the City of Clinton,” Floyd said.
Council also recognized Kennedy Elise Perry, president of the Presbyterian College Chapter of the NAACP. She received an outstanding leadership award from the Laurens County Branch of the NAACP at its Jan. 14 Freedom Fund Banquet.
A student-leader at PC, Perry is an honor student, plays and teaches violin, and is a ROTC cadet. She has been instrumental in many community projects on and off campus.
Council gave unanimous approval to the nomination of Susan Galloway as an at-large member of the Trees Commission.
Council heard from Anita Williams, a candidate for city council in the March Municipal Election, about community needs, including a City of Clinton humane officer to deal with the threat to citizens from stray dogs.
City Manager Tom Brooks said the city is in talks with state agencies about leasing space in the MS Bailey Municipal Building, when School District 56 leaves the building for its new offices, and told council that former city manager administrative assistant Dianne Wyatt has rejoined the city to plan events and enhance business communications. Brooks said the city has published a RFP for an independent audit firm to account for $4.7 Million in spent funds that should have been retained in the Electric Rate Stabilization Fund, but were used to pay bills instead under the previous city administration (RFP = Request For Proposals).
Brooks said his administration is continuing work on the I-26-Hwy 72 industrial park (on former Whitten Center property) and work with the Clinton YMCA on building and managing a swimming pool.
In the vein of Black History Month, Council Member Megan Walsh asked for council awareness of an upcoming program at Clinton High School - a display of the works of artist Albert “Vision” Marquis Williams, through Feb. 28, and an artist’s reception and gallery talk at the highs school on Feb. 28. A Clinton High graduate, Williams produces art to focus on West African Culture.
The public exhibition is entitled “The Aniyvwiya Experience.”
The Clinton City Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be March 6, open to the public. Lately, the council has taken to having a second meeting late in the month, for “work session” discussions, also open to the public.
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