By Jack Rogers
From the January/February 2019 Issue
You can always find the largest utilities in the country—the biggest regional and multi-state power players—on any top utilities list based on installed power capacity. But if you use size as your primary criteria, be prepared to make some last-minute edits to the list: as we were going to press last year with our Editor’s Picks for the utilities sector, Virginia-based Dominion Energy swallowed SCANA in neighboring South Carolina in a $7.9-billion acquisition; earlier this year, Gulf Power was acquired by NextEra Energy.
When BF makes its utilities choices, we’re not just measuring megawatts—we’re looking for the power players who are fast on their feet in embracing new technologies and proactively fine-tuning their sources of energy for a rapidly adjusting market. We’re looking for old-school reliability combined with cutting-edge efficiency. And we’re zeroing in on the players who always seem to have a seat at the table when the deals are cut for the most important economic development projects in their region.
Today’s leading utilities are playing an integral role in the future prosperity of the communities they serve. They’re busy tailoring energy solutions to match the evolving requirements of the 21st century businesses that locations covet as engines of sustainable growth. They’re also playing a leading role in expanding the reach of renewables by delivering green energy at rates that make it competitive in all markets.
And so, without further ado, here are our Editor’s Picks: Top Utilities.
ELECTRICITIES OF NC: PUBLIC POWER
In more than 70 cities and towns across North Carolina, homes and businesses are powered by municipally owned utilities. These public power communities have a well-earned reputation for providing safe, reliable electric service and outstanding customer service to more than 1.2 million people in North Carolina—more than the populations of Raleigh and Charlotte combined. In fact, a statewide survey of 3,000 customers in North Carolina conducted in 2018 found that 82.3 percent of residents are satisfied with public power.
“Time and time again, public power communities throughout North Carolina have demonstrated the value that comes with owning and operating their own electric system,” said Roy Jones, CEO of ElectriCities, a non-profit organization that serves public power communities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. “Throughout 2018, a number of our member communities saw a direct economic development impact from being locally owned. Businesses throughout the country and the world recognize and appreciate the value that public power provides and find comfort in knowing their power demands will always be met. We look forward to seeing what 2019 has in store for public power in North Carolina.”
Public power providers in North Carolina—and across the nation—consistently outperform investor-owned utilities when it comes to reliability. In fact, public power experiences fewer power outages, and gets the power restored more quickly than others. A prime example of this ability to provide exceptional reliability was demonstrated during the 2018 hurricane season. Three days after Hurricane Florence made landfall, 80 percent of Fayetteville customers and 83 percent of New Bern customers had their power restored. These were two of the hardest hit communities. And 26 member communities reported no outages at all.
ElectriCities is proud to be the energy behind public power. ElectriCities is a not-for-profit membership organization that consolidates many of the administrative services needed by 70 municipally owned electric utilities operating in North Carolina. ElectriCities was formed to protect the interests of North Carolina public power communities and to provide a unified voice on state and federal issues affecting public power.
In addition, ElectriCities provides customer service and safety training, emergency and technical assistance, communications, economic development, government affairs and legal services. Through consolidation of these services, members save their customers the expense of administering these functions locally.
Economic development is a huge driver in North Carolina public power communities. The benefits of public power have helped our communities attract and retain businesses, adding a growing workforce throughout the state.
Public power communities throughout North Carolina saw some big economic development wins during the third and fourth quarters of 2018. Novo Nordisk, a multinational pharmaceutical company, expanded in Clayton with a $22 million investment, creating 22 jobs. Hanesbrands signed a lease for a 340,000-square-foot distribution center in High Point, paving the way for 200 new jobs. AirBoss of America Corp. received a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina fund to help facilitate the expansion of their existing 150,000-square-foot rubber compounding facility in Scotland Neck, creating 42 additional jobs. Enforge, which is a manufacturer of steel-formed suspension and steering assemblies for automotive companies, invested $4 million to expand its existing production plant in Albemarle, creating 44 jobs. Additionally, Sysco Foods invested $11.6 million into an expansion in Selma.
An in-house economic development team serves ElectriCities’ member communities with everything from site selection to providing demographic and market reports. Visit www.electricities.com to learn more and follow ElectriCities on Twitter @ElectriCitiesNC, Facebook @ElectriCities and Instagram @ncpublicpower.
SANTEE COOPER IS DELIVERING BRIGHTER TOMORROWS TODAY
Cathedral thinking—that’s what State Sen. John C. Matthews called the plan for Camp Hall, South Carolina’s next-generation industrial commerce park being developed now by Santee Cooper.
Many of the world’s greatest cathedrals were the vision of one generation, designed and built by those who came later, and still stand to serve today’s generation, Sen. Matthews noted during last summer’s Camp Hall groundbreaking. By the same token, “who would have believed 30 years ago that this timber forest would be converted to such a magnificent park to benefit so many,” he said. “The next generation will continue to benefit from the work that all of you are doing here, doing this day to make a better day tomorrow.”
South Carolina Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt was more direct. “Folks, this is one of the most remarkable industrial sites I’ve ever seen,” he told the crowd that June morning.
Santee Cooper has developed industrial sites for decades, always with an eye fixed on improving the quality of life for South Carolinians. Camp Hall is the largest, not only in terms of acreage (roughly 1,400 developable acres) – but also in vision. With anchor tenant Volvo Car USA already manufacturing cars at its first U.S. automobile plant, Camp Hall will achieve success unlike any other industrial commerce park around.
And as with any exercise in cathedral thinking, Santee Cooper stands shoulder to shoulder with key partners: the state Commerce Department, South Carolina electric cooperatives, economic development alliances, educational institutions and many other organizations who understand Camp Hall’s potential to lift up generations to come.
Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s largest power provider and one of the nation’s largest publicly owned electric utilities based on generation. For more than 80 years, we’ve been breaking new ground in South Carolina by creating safe, reliable, energy-saving solutions that support our business community and ultimately improve the quality of life for South Carolinians.
Today, Santee Cooper is the largest source of electricity across the state, with direct power delivery to Charleston Air Force Base, 20 electric cooperatives, the cities of Bamberg and Georgetown, 26 large industrial customers, and 10 member cities that form the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency, plus roughly 180,000 residential and commercial customers.
Santee Cooper believes in industrial growth, strong business and community partnerships, personal relationships, environmental stewardship, quality and respect. The company also believes that innovation and forward thinking create a dynamic environment that works for business, employees and the community.
Reliable, affordable electricity is what Santee Cooper does best. It has the American Public Power Association’s prestigious Diamond RP3 award for outstanding reliability. Its constant focus on reliability, quality delivery, minimal outages and swift restoration are some of the many reasons the company can offer such low industrial pricing. Its industrial electric costs are 30 percent below the national average and reflect a diverse generating portfolio combining natural gas, nuclear, coal, hydro and renewable resources. And the company prioritizes a hometown, here-for-you service that makes you partners in your success.
Santee Cooper also understands the importance of maximizing natural resources and is proud of its record in renewable generation, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. Santee Cooper has been the state’s pacesetter when it comes to Green Power and renewable energy. Its recycling initiatives have earned industry accolades, and the company has attracted national attention for its innovative program to beneficially reuse coal ash. This comprehensive Reduce The Use campaign offers rebates, incentives and low-interest financing to encourage customers to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses. The company also help customers who choose to use the sun to help offset their electric use through Solar Home, Solar Business and Community Solar programs.
Santee Cooper provides competitive prices, reliability and excellent customer service—and its customers recognize that. An independent survey last year found 100 percent overall satisfaction among industrial customers who responded, the highest ever recorded in nearly 20 years of its surveys. Areas where customers gave the strongest marks include pricing, power restoration, communication, general customer service and technical expertise.
“They do an excellent job in all categories and have good people at all levels,” offered one customer.
Because of South Carolina’s favorable business climate and Santee Cooper’s competitive electric rates, reliable service, diverse generation mix, alliances with electric cooperatives and municipalities, and exceptional customer service, companies like Samsung, Google and Volvo have located here. Its creative and dynamic economic development team is actively engaged with local and regional partners and stands ready to serve as your point of contact through the site selection process.
Santee Cooper has buildings and sites ready for your building…with more being built: The company has loaned money to dozens of industrial projects since 2012 and has a grant program that can put finishing touches on a site to suit your needs.
The company’s partnerships across South Carolina have helped light the way for new industry with billions of dollars of investment and in payroll, and tens of thousands of jobs for South Carolina.
Camp Hall is a first-of-its-kind industrial community blending commerce, lifestyle, business and family in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Volvo built its first North American car manufacturing plant at Camp Hall and is planning an expansion there. Santee Cooper is clearing additional tracts and readying the area for more industry and business. Camp Hall is logistically strong with nearly complete onsite access to Interstate 26 and plans for rail service in the near future. It is close to Interstate 95 and the Port of Charleston. Infrastructure, including roads, sewer, water, redundant and diverse power and fiber are already constructed. Camp Hall is well-suited for large-scale industries with more than 15,000 employees and more than 15 million square feet expected upon completion, and with development opportunities on tracts that range from 7 to 600 acres for sale.
In addition, the Camp Hall vision includes a people-first community with a village core that includes daycare, fitness, medical services, convenience services, shops, restaurants and more. The plans also include a number of recreational opportunities, such as walking and biking trails, and a large park to help strike the perfect work-life experience. Camp Hall is Santee Cooper’s largest project, and other buildings and sites are ready for industry too. The company powers business and economic development. Visit www.poweringsc.com and let Santee Cooper put its power to work for you.
CONSUMERS ENERGY HELPS MICHIGAN BUSINESSES THRIVE
As Michigan’s largest energy provider, Consumers Energy was designated a Business Facilities Editor’s Choice Utility and received an Honorable Mention Award in Business Facilities’ 2018 Economic Development Deal of the Year for the Spartan Michigan dairy facility.
Why would Consumers Energy be involved in economic development? The answer is simple: the company is committed to its communities in ways beyond energy to sustain Michigan’s economic future.
Businesses in Michigan enjoy several competitive advantages. Among them: a stable tax and regulatory environment, plentiful natural resources, proximity to major Midwest cities and Canada and robust research and development and engineering talent.
Targeted incentives are vital components of Michigan’s approach to business attraction and job creation. In 2017, the Michigan legislature passed “Good Jobs for Michigan” legislation. Signed into law by former Gov. Rick Snyder, performance-based “Good Jobs for Michigan” legislation enables businesses that create jobs to capture up to 100 percent of the new employees’ personal income tax withholdings for up to 10 years depending upon the volume of jobs created and wages paid. Measures like these help Michigan and its job-creating businesses compete to win.
In 2017, working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Consumers Energy deployed a new way of addressing talent challenges—Talent Pipeline Management (TPM)—using supply chain management principles.
A first of its kind program in Michigan, TPM enables businesses to clearly identify and signal talent needs to and engage with talent suppliers. These include local economic development agencies, K-12 schools and higher education institutions, workforce development organizations and others—also known as the talent supply chain.
Together with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Consumers Energy is training local economic development agencies, chambers of commerce and other workforce development partners to work with groups of employers using the TPM methodology. These employer-driven networks use TPM to help build their own talent supply chains and align business needs with educational offerings.
In Michigan’s Grand Rapids region alone, we’ve trained four facilitators working in local economic and workforce development agencies. They are working with more than 65 companies organized into manufacturing, IT, healthcare, energy, agriculture and other industry sectors.
How does this benefit a company entering the Grand Rapids region? No matter what talent door you enter, all agencies speak the same language and work together as one entity—the West Michigan TPM Network—to solve talent challenges. Collaboration between business and education lays the groundwork for Michigan’s next generation to work in good-paying jobs and stay in our state.
Michigan has 133,000 engineers statewide—the highest concentration of engineers in the nation. Michigan also ranks in the top 10 for its number of skilled trades workers (250,000) and offers a Going Pro talent initiative that can help your business find the skilled trades professionals you need anywhere in the state. In February 2018, Michigan upped the ante on career readiness when former Gov. Rick Snyder announced the Marshall Plan for Talent. The Marshall Plan is a $100 million workforce development initiative enabling education and business leaders to apply for grants to create and develop programs to prepare workers with professional trades skills.
Consumers Energy’s job is to build confidence in Michigan site selection decisions and the siting process.
We’re working to reduce risk by offering competitive industrial rate options, natural gas prices 60 percent lower than a decade ago, and robust new construction and energy efficiency incentives.
From demand response to solar distributed generation, net metering and a large customer renewable energy program supporting large companies’ renewable energy commitments, Consumers Energy offers options to help make renewable energy goals reality. Having set a goal to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent and eliminate use of coal to generate electricity by 2040, the company is positioning renewable energy as a cornerstone of Michigan’s energy future.
Consumers Energy is proud of its deep relationships with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and local economic development agencies. No matter how a business begins the siting process, the company is at the table as a team to understand a businesses’ long-term goals and provide tools beyond energy to reach them, with focus on growth. Consumers Energy connects all the dots: education and talent, tax incentives, electric rates and natural resources and more. It works to understand how all factors fit together for each business, and recognizes what works for one business might not for another. The result is a seamless, from-all-angles, “we’ve got this” customer experience. That’s a major reason why, in 2018, leaders in automotive, medical technology, retail and other industries are planning to invest more than $2 billion and create more than 5,700 jobs in Consumers Energy’s service territory.
Attracting businesses to Michigan and keeping them here means keeping upfront and ongoing energy costs competitive. The company’s goal is competitively priced—or potentially zero upfront cost—energy infrastructure for business customers.
When it comes to keeping energy costs low over the long haul, energy efficiency incentives for current and planned upgrades have saved customers more than $1.5 billion since 2009 and offer competitive energy- and cost-saving advantages. It also assigns a no-cost energy advisor to help businesses maximize energy efficiency incentives.
Consumers Energy shares in Michigan’s quest to become a top-tier state for business attraction. The company knows that goal is achievable, and is getting better every day.
Jackson, MI-based Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest utility and the nation’s fourth largest combination utility. Consumers Energy provides natural gas and/or electric service to 6.7 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
For more about Consumers Energy’s economic development services, contact Scott Corrin, Director of Economic Development, at (517)374-2248, email EconomicDevelopment@cmsenergy.com or visit ConsumersEnergy.com/econdev.
HOOSIER ENERGY: A SOLID PAST BUILDS A BRIGHTER FUTURE
The goal for companies is to build a thriving business. Hoosier Energy helps them reach that goal in a safe, reliable and cost-effective way. Headquartered in Bloomington, IN, Hoosier Energy is a not-for-profit generation and transmission (G & T) cooperative that since 1949 has provided wholesale power and services to its 18 member cooperatives in central and southern Indiana and southeastern Illinois.
With the mission of providing its member distribution systems with assured, reliable and competitively priced electric power, Hoosier Energy provides the solid foundation for those member-system cooperatives to deliver the appropriate power supply safely and reliably—transcending weather, market volatility or regulatory uncertainty.
Local electric cooperatives offer a unique business model: their customers are also their owners. These community-focused organizations are led by directors elected by their members (customers). Cooperatives are built by people who live in the areas they serve—creating jobs, fueling growth and powering their own communities.
Expansion of electric cooperatives changed the face of the national economy and continues to be a catalyst for economic growth today. Nearly 900 electric cooperatives across the nation are part of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), located in Washington, D.C.
Hoosier Energy recently had a change in leadership. Steve Smith, president and chief executive officer, retired after serving the cooperative for 42 years, 25 of them as president and CEO. He was succeeded by Donna Walker, who was named to the office after serving as chief financial officer for eight years.
“The Board of Director’s vision for the company includes a continued path toward a diverse portfolio of energy sources and reinforcing reliable delivery methods,” says Walker. “This vision allows our member co-ops the opportunity to help their communities grow and thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.”
To ensure a successful implementation of that vision, Walker began the strategic realignment of all divisions. The realignment, along with a focus on eight new strategic priorities, will enhance opportunities for member cooperatives to help their communities flourish.
The cooperative model is unique: It is member-owned, with decisions made by the member-elected board and by members themselves. Cooperatives do not report to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), the state’s public utilities commission. This model enables rapid decision making and flexibility. Potential public-utility-related roadblocks of case hearings and appeals are non-existent for cooperative-owned electrics.
“Hoosier Energy brings great flexibility to the table,” said Harold Gutzwiller, manager of economic development and key accounts for Hoosier Energy. “What is considered a non-negotiable position by a publicly owned utility is negotiable for member-owned cooperatives. That versatility opens up many possibilities for our member-customers.”
Flexible options don’t end at the negotiation table. Hoosier Energy offers an “all-of-the-above” energy portfolio, with an ever-increasing renewables section. Its portfolio currently includes nearly five percent renewable energy sources and is on track to surpass a goal of 10 percent by 2025.
Hoosier Energy offers renewable energy credits as an easy and inexpensive way for a facility to purchase renewable energy. These credits can cover up to 100 percent of energy usage. For companies wishing to have on-site renewable generation Hoosier Energy can provide multiple options to achieve corporate goals. Hoosier Energy’s renewables team is also available to discuss project analysis, carbon calculations and contract analysis with interested companies. A defined process guides the client successfully from project conception to interconnection. Hoosier Energy’s local cooperative partners also provide a range of options to help commercial and industrial members meet their goals easily, quickly and cost-effectively.
Hoosier Energy’s commitment to renewable energy helps companies achieve their sustainability goals. Its Economic Development Rider (EDR) program offers significant savings to qualified new and expanding businesses in its member cooperative service territories, providing savings from five to 30 percent over the first six years. These savings are yet another step in the flexible incentive path Hoosier Energy offers growing companies.
Hoosier Energy has a long history of working with state and local economic development partners on behalf of its members, building a reputation of community enrichment as well as helping to guide economic growth. In 2018, 55 business expansions or relocations were announced in Hoosier Energy territory, leading to a commitment of more than 2,500 new jobs and $730 million in investments.
Among those investments were ones by specific industries that thrive in Hoosier Energy’s Indiana service areas: agriculture, logistics and advanced manufacturing:
- The POET biofuel facility in the city of Shelbyville is just one example of the great opportunities available in Indiana. The 80 million-gallon-per-year facility is under construction with an expected completion date of Spring 2020. The $160 million project will be the 28th starch biofuel plant in POET’s network and the fifth in Indiana.
- Amazon.com Inc. signed a lease for a new $80 million distribution facility in Greenwood, a “Receive Center” that’s expected to create 1,250 full-time jobs. Amazon has only a handful of Receive Centers around the country, which package incoming products for shipment to fulfillment centers.
- NTN Driveshaft Inc., a global automotive supplier, will invest $90 million to expand its manufacturing operations in the city of Columbus. The company, a subsidiary of Japan-based NTN Corporation, will create up to 100 new jobs in Bartholomew County by 2023. The company will invest nearly $100 million over the next three years to increase the plant capacity.
Hoosier Energy is focusing on technology as it looks toward the future. With a revamped economic development website (www.hoosiersites.com) set to launch in early March, businesses will have unique digital tools at their fingertips to help make the right site location decisions. The website boasts a comprehensive site and building database of real estate available in Hoosier Energy member territory. It also includes tools to estimate labor availability, the cost of workers compensation, and the potential value of tax abatements on sites in member territory.
Energized by new leadership, Hoosier Energy offers unique flexibility through rates and programs to help businesses thrive. It also boasts a knowledgeable, professional economic development team ready to help businesses navigate the site location or expansion process.
FPL: THE NEXT ERA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
With a leading position in the utility industry, a focus on growing Florida’s economy and white-glove support for complex projects, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) should be one of your first calls for economic development projects considering the Southeast U.S. As one of the nation’s largest, cleanest and most reliable electric utilities, FPL is creating innovative solutions to drive down electricity costs and provide tangible, sustainable benefits for its more than five million customers. In fact, FPL is the largest utility by retail electric sales in the United States, serving 35 counties, or more than 50 percent of Florida’s population.
FPL’s parent company, NextEra Energy, Inc. (NEE), is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun. With more than $40 billion in new investments planned through 2020, NextEra Energy is also one of America’s top five capital investors in infrastructure. Its scale and diversity means the company has a wide range of resources and expertise available to support capital projects.
Companies and site selection consultants look to utilities to provide power infrastructure and reliable, low-cost power—but utility economic development professionals can offer much more. FPL launched its Office of Economic Development in 2011 to help businesses that drive Florida’s economy forward and support the communities it serves. The economic development team supports business expansions and relocations with customized service in the following areas: site and building searches, infrastructure assessments, electricity rate quotes, electricity rate incentives, tax exemption qualifications, energy efficiency and clean energy programs, and electric service planning and delivery timing. Since its inception, FPL’s Office of Economic Development has worked with hundreds of companies in their competitive location or business expansion efforts in Florida, resulting in pledges to create over 25,000 jobs.
FPL’s rates are already among the lowest in Florida and more than 30 percent below the national average. Through its understanding of the competitive business landscape, where even small changes to operations and maintenance can influence facility location decisions, FPL strives to ensure power costs are never a barrier to businesses choosing to invest in Florida. FPL has two key discounted electric rate programs: the Economic Development Rate (EDR) and the Commercial Industrial Service Rider (CISR). To qualify for EDR, which is a discounted rate over four or five years, a company must create 25 new jobs per 350 kilowatts of new demand. To qualify for CISR, which is a flexible negotiable electric rate, a company must have at least two MW of firm power from a single meter and should be a participant vying to select a location between at least two states in a competitive project.
Power reliability is another key requirement for large power users. FPL’s relentless focus on service to customers was recognized among industry leaders as a recipient of the 2018 ReliabilityOne™ “Award for Outstanding Reliability Performance in the Southeast U.S.,” by PA Consulting Group, Inc. This was the third time in four years that FPL’s service reliability benefitting millions of customers has been recognized for excellence. FPL’s service reliability is more than 50 percent better than the national average.
The company’s industry-leading reliability is enabled by the thoughtful deployment of cutting-edge technologies such as robots, drones and augmented reality, and over $3 billion invested to harden and secure power infrastructure. FPL has installed more than five million smart meters and more than 90,000 other intelligent devices across its service territory to help monitor and manage the energy grid and to detect and prevent power issues. During Hurricane Irma in 2017, FPL’s smart grid technology not only prevented more than 546,000 service interruptions, it also allowed the company to begin restoring service to customers remotely even before it was safe for crews to work in the field.
As the Sunshine State’s largest utility, FPL is leading the way in sustainable, clean energy investments. FPL is in the midst of one of the largest solar expansions ever in the U.S. with more than 3.5 million new solar panels added in the past two years alone. By 2023, FPL will generate more energy from solar than from coal and oil combined, with more than 10 million solar panels installed at 34 sites across the state. These investments have helped reduce the company’s carbon emissions profile, now one of the cleanest among all utilities nationwide—30 percent cleaner than the U.S. industry average.
Taking the commitment to sustainability even further, FPL recently purchased 1,800 acres of land in North Florida to develop Florida’s first sustainable products industrial park. The company plans to leverage its position as an industry leader and innovator in clean energy generation and storage to attract sustainable energy and technology companies. The conceptual plan for this rail-served site includes the construction of 74.5 MW of universal solar on approximately 1,300 acres. FPL has reserved the remaining nearly 500 acres for industrial development.
FPL knows that achieving economic prosperity and sustainability for Florida is a team effort, and that a strong Florida economy benefits all of its residents. FPL’s Office of Economic Development works closely to support economic development around the state alongside Enterprise Florida, Inc., and its regional and local partners. FPL offers economic development tools, which include a comprehensive website, PoweringFlorida.com, a one-stop shop for business owners and site selection consultants interested in exploring Florida locations to establish or expand their businesses. Additionally, the site is valuable to Florida local economic development organizations that use the site’s data to help market their communities.
To explore Florida and the benefits of working with FPL’s Office of Economic Development team, visit PoweringFlorida.com.
DOMINION ENERGY: DEALMAKING POWER PLAYER IN VIRGINIA
Dominion Energy played an active role in luring some of the largest economic development deals in the country to Virginia in 2018 and is positioned to build on that success in 2019. The key to the company’s impressive track record is a philosophy rooted in responsiveness and customer service.
The company had a hand in helping Virginia win Business Facilities 2018 State of the Year award, as well as in two of its 2018 Deal of the Year winners: the Amazon HQ2 project in Northern Virginia (Gold Award) and Facebook’s data center project in Henrico County (Honorable Mention). The efforts are paying off with billions of dollars in investments and tens of thousands of new, high-paying jobs in its electric service territory.
In 2018, Amazon, Micron, Aligned Energy, and EdgeCore Internet Real Estate announced significant investments within the Dominion Energy service territory.
- The Amazon HQ2 announcement was one of the most sought-after economic development projects in history. Virginia will benefit from its share of the company’s new headquarters project, which includes a $2.5 billion investment and the promise of 25,000 new jobs.
- Micron announced one the largest manufacturing investments in the history of Virginia with the expansion of its existing facility in Manassas. The expansion will include an investment of $3 billion and 1,100 new jobs.
- Aligned Energy solidified its presence in the largest data center market in the world with the announcement of a 180 MW facility in Ashburn.
- EdgeCore Internet Real Estate also announced a new presence in the Northern Virginia data center market with its new 144 MW facility.
“Dominion Energy strives to be more than an energy provider. We actively partner with customers to help define and advance their electrical needs and sustainability goals,” said Kent Hill, Manager of Strategic Economic Development. “We have strong relationships with stakeholders at local and state levels that help drive these investments. Plus, we can leverage our competitive rates, reliable power, key locations, renewable energy options, and the expertise afforded by a team of experienced energy and site selection experts.”
Dominion Energy continues to be one of the most affordable providers of electricity in the country in terms of both residential and industrial rates, a crucial component for economic development and job creation. Dominion Energy rates are consistently around 30% below the national average. The largest data center market in the word is located in Northern Virginia and is continuing to grow at a record pace, due in large part, to electric rates that are among the lowest of any major data center market. Sales and use tax credits and other state and local incentives encourage more data centers and energy intensive companies to locate in Virginia and stay in the Commonwealth moving forward.
The strategic location of the Dominion Energy territory in the Mid-Atlantic region and adjacent to Washington, DC offers world-class transportation and logistics infrastructure and provides easy access to major U.S. and international markets.
Dominion Energy encourages the growth of renewable energy and is committed to providing its customers with program options to support their renewable energy goals. Renewable energy solutions range from an individual Green Power purchasing program to dedicated facilities for large commercial and industrial customers. Dominion Energy’s partnership with companies such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Facebook has allowed those companies and many others, to meet their renewable energy goals as they grow their businesses in Virginia.
The Dominion Energy economic development team realizes time to market and a streamlined connection plan are critical aspects of the site selection process. The economic development team can help companies navigate the challenges of site selection, siting and permitting, construction design, and service agreements. The team also can help establish crucial business relationships to get facilities up and running quickly and efficiently.
Several key developments promise to enhance the company’s position in 2019. Dominion Energy completed a merger with SCANA Corporation in January, which will extend its territory and the commitment to provide reliable and affordable energy to customers in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Dominion Energy now serves 3.3 million electric utility customer accounts in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia; 3.3 million natural gas utility customer accounts in Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming; and 800,000 competitive and regulated natural gas customers in states with competitive markets.
Its operations now include: 93,600 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; 106,400 miles of natural gas gathering, storage, transmission and distribution pipeline; About 31,000 megawatts of diverse electric generation capacity in 10 states; and more than one trillion cubic feet of natural gas storage.
Dominion Energy is investing in key clean energy infrastructure to better position Virginia’s energy future for decades to come. The company is rapidly growing its renewable energy sources, including solar and wind power, as well as zero-carbon nuclear energy and clean burning natural gas. Today, Dominion Energy has more than 30 facilities totaling 824 MW of solar generation operational or under development in the Commonwealth. These units are capable of providing power to more than 206,000 homes at peak solar output.
Additionally, the company has committed to having 3,000 MW of solar and wind energy in operation or under development in the next three years. The company has contracted with a global wind energy leader—Ørsted Energy of Denmark—to build two 6-megawatt turbines 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. This project is the first off-shore wind project in the mid-Atlantic region.
The growth of renewables is complimented by investments in low-cost, clean-burning natural gas and zero-carbon nuclear energy. Dominion Energy is a partner in the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which will ensure a low-cost, reliable supply of natural gas. The ACP is the largest single economic development project currently underway in the Commonwealth and is crucial to future economic development and job creation in the Commonwealth. An economic impact study found that the lower energy prices the project will bring to the region will create up to 2,200 new full-time jobs in North Carolina and Virginia. Additionally, the operation of this pipeline is projected to produce energy cost savings averaging $243 million annually for electric and natural gas consumers in Virginia over the next 20 years.
Similarly, power from Dominion Energy’s four nuclear units in Virginia provides safe, reliable, affordable, and clean electricity. The company has filed to renew the licenses of the two units at the Surry Power Station to keep them in operation through 2053. Renewal will help the Commonwealth remain a leader in the production of clean energy and supports more than 900 high-paying jobs at the station. Dominion Energy anticipates filing for extensions of the licenses at the North Anna Power Station next year, as well, which would allow them to run through 2060.
For more information about Dominion Energy Economic Development, visit the company’s website or contact Kent Hill, Manager of Strategic Economic Development, at (804) 771-4987.
FIRSTENERGY: $30 BILLION IN CAPEX AND 75,000 JOBS IN 10 YEARS
At FirstEnergy, a legacy of contributing to the prosperity and vitality of its service area continues today and takes many forms—from providing customers with safe, reliable and affordable electricity, to supporting economic development efforts that create jobs, sustain local suppliers and attract new businesses. Over the past decade, economic development efforts have helped attract nearly $30 billion in capital investment and create more than 75,000 jobs in the service area.
FirstEnergy is proud of its strong presence in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, where it is a leading regional energy provider dedicated to safety, operational excellence and responsive customer service. The company’s subsidiaries are involved in the transmission and distribution of electricity, and its 10 utility operating companies form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems based on 6 million customers served.
With approximately 12,400 employees working in a nearly 65,000-square-mile area of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York, FirstEnergy knows firsthand the advantages of operating a business in this region. They include a well-educated, diverse workforce and a great location with access to a large portion of the U.S. population and its buying power. The region also benefits from ongoing investments in education, infrastructure, transportation and industry.
FirstEnergy’s Economic Development team promotes the service area’s capacity for meeting the needs of new and existing businesses. This includes assisting site-seekers with services such as in-depth location analysis as well as introductions to local, regional and state officials. It also offers advanced analytics tools that provide customized and detailed economic forecasting, and support and sponsor community-based business retention and expansion initiatives.
“The eastern part of our service area, specifically around Interstates 78 and 81 in eastern Pennsylvania, continue to be a prime location for distribution centers, with more than 3 million square feet under construction,” said Patrick Kelly, Director of Economic Development for FirstEnergy. “In the tri-state area of western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio, we’re working with mid-stream companies that are expanding their operations—a result of Marcellus and Utica shale being the largest natural gas play in the world,” added Mr. Kelly. Ohio continues to be a manufacturing power house with significant investments in primary metals and materials. “These tend to be large, capital and energy intensive projects, where we can help customers use our product wisely,” said Mr. Kelly.
FirstEnergy is a forward-thinking electric utility powered by a diverse team of employees committed to making customers’ lives brighter, the environment better and communities stronger.
Access to reliable power at stable, affordable prices is necessary to keep the region competitive and support economic development initiatives. Toward this goal, the company is making significant investments to upgrade its electric system through its Energizing the Future program—a multibillion-dollar initiative to strengthen the transmission system through projects that make sense for customers and are a source of well-paying jobs. FirstEnergy plans to invest up to $1.2 billion per year in its transmission system and up to $1.7 million per year in distribution operations from 2019 through 2021.
By installing automated advanced equipment in substations, the company no longer must wait for field crews to operate line switches during outage events, which significantly improves response times. Digital relay devices also can detect and automatically isolate outages and efficiently restore power to customers. In addition, remote monitoring devices proactively evaluate the health of the grid and take corrective actions before outages occur.
To accelerate the deployment of new, smart grid technologies on its transmission system, FirstEnergy is completing construction of its Center for Advanced Energy Technology adjacent to its West Akron Campus in Akron, OH. This 88,000-square-foot facility will be one of the most comprehensive testing and training centers of its kind in the nation, providing engineers and technicians with a centralized, hands-on environment for upgrading and maintaining the power grid by simulating real-world conditions on the electric system. In addition, the facility will be used for evaluating and testing equipment to ensure it complies with current cybersecurity standards.
FirstEnergy is making significant investments in its infrastructure to support increased demand for electricity from new shale gas facilities, pipeline compressor stations and other energy-intensive operations. The company also has assembled multidisciplinary regional teams to support manufacturing growth and other business opportunities resulting from shale gas. These teams bring together experts in economic development, local, state and regulatory affairs, energy delivery and other disciplines under a single point of contact with the company.
FirstEnergy promotes the ability of its electric utilities to meet the energy needs of new and existing businesses. Customer support representatives develop and maintain quality relationships with commercial customers and help them grow their businesses, while leveraging their strong relationships in the economic development community and with key trade and professional organizations.
Whether partnering with local and regional economic development agencies to bring new jobs and economic growth, supporting shale gas development or working with customers to meet their electric service requirements, FirstEnergy is dedicated to supporting the long-term prosperity and vitality of the communities it’s privileged to serve.
AEP: 50 SHOVEL-READY SITES
American Electric Power (AEP) serves 5.4 million customers and an overall population of 12.4 million across its 11-state service territory. In 2018, its Economic Development team supported 110 projects that attracted and retained over 14,700 jobs from investors including Amazon, Black and Decker, ElringKlinger, Monogram Foods, Sofidel and Whirlpool.
Through its Quality Sites program, AEP focuses on product development with over 50 development-ready sites available to industrial, food processing and data center companies. It has already proven successful in attracting five companies to its Quality Sites, including distribution centers for Campbell Soup and Dollar General and an automotive parts manufacturing facility for Italian-based ELDOR Corporation.
AEP spearheads other programs, including community grant programs and economic development training. In the Tri-State region of eastern Kentucky, southwestern Ohio and western West Virginia, it also has launched an initiative called Appalachian Sky to attract the aerospace/aviation industry to this coal-impacted region of Appalachia. In addition to economic development assistance, it also consults businesses on renewables, energy efficiency, beneficial electrification and other energy solutions.
Partnering with AEP gives you direct access to several fast-growing, pro-business regions in the United States. Choose from more than 3,000 communities spanning 11 states, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes.
With locations across diverse geographic and economic regions, you’ll find a boundless range of market choices for any size and type of facility. AEP can identify the optimal site that offers you unique advantages such as:
- Skilled and affordable labor, with average manufacturing wages 10% below the national average and a talent pipeline built from more than 200 higher education institutions
- Easy transportation accessibility by rail, air, water and road, including 19 major interstate highways
- Convenient proximity to major population centers, raw materials and 1⁄3 of the total U.S. manufacturing output
- Robust and modern utility infrastructure, including water, gas and electric
- Business costs — taxes, utilities, real estate and labor—among the lowest in the nation
- Direct access to several major U.S. shale oil and gas plays
AEP can help you find the right place for your company to reach its full potential. You’ll access its deep territory of knowledge, customized research capabilities and influential relationships with state and local organizations.
The company maintains a portfolio of more than 600 available sites and buildings across its territory, and can perform customized property searches based on your requirements. Among those properties are dozens already
prepared for development by AEP and its partners—including sites reviewed specifically for industrial, data center and food and beverage processing—enabling you to fast-track construction and minimize risk.
AMEREN: A PARTNER FOR GROWTH
Ameren Corporation has a rich history of serving businesses, residents and communities across its Illinois and Missouri service territory. For decades, Ameren has been a valuable partner in providing reliable electricity and natural gas service. The company is now more focused than ever on leveraging innovative technologies to further improve service to its customers. It’s all part of Ameren’s ongoing commitment to keep pace with future energy needs, while serving and investing in the communities it calls home.
Based in St. Louis, Ameren powers the quality of life for 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area through its Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois rate-regulated utility subsidiaries.
Ameren Illinois provides electric transmission and distribution service and natural gas distribution service. Ameren Missouri provides electric generation, transmission and distribution service, as well as natural gas distribution service. Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois develops, owns and operates rate-regulated regional electric transmission projects.
Located in the heart of the Midwest, the Ameren service area is competitively positioned as a key hub for distribution, advanced manufacturing and agribusiness. Advantages include access to worldwide markets via integrated, efficient transportation systems; eight foreign trade zones; world-renowned research in agriculture, biofuels and supporting technologies; and a workforce energized by education and experience with the famous Midwest work ethic creating a talent pool that is both dependable and highly productive.
The Ameren service area isn’t just a great place to work, it’s a great place to call home. Residential customers pay less for electricity compared to Midwest and national averages. According to the Edison Electric Institute, Ameren Missouri’s residential rates are 18 percent lower than the Midwest average and 19 percent lower than the national average. Ameren Illinois’ residential rates are 12 percent lower than the Midwest average and 13 percent lower than the national average.
Ameren also understands many companies have clean energy standards requiring on-site renewable energy generation. Ameren Missouri’s Community Solar, Solar Partnership, Private Solar, and Pure Power Programs are a few options available to customers that would satisfy these needs.
It takes power to grow a business and that power comes from trusted partnerships. Ameren has several programs to help meet the needs of new and expanding companies responding to the fast-paced economy with rapid site location and investment decisions.
Ameren Missouri now has one of the nation’s best economic development incentive rate programs for industrial customers. The new economic development rate is one of the many customer benefits included in Ameren Missouri’s Smart Energy Plan, which was enabled by recent passage of a state energy law. Quaker Window Products Co., one of the first companies to take advantage of the new incentive rate, said the benefit offered by Ameren Missouri was a key deciding factor for the company to construct its new manufacturing facility in the service area.
According to Michael Moehn, president of Ameren Missouri, the Quaker expansion is just the beginning of businesses—and jobs—coming to the service territory as a result of the economic development incentive. New and expanding businesses can now get one of the most favorable economic development rate incentives in the country, keeping energy costs low for the business and all of Ameren’s customers.
The economic development incentive not only attracts new businesses to Missouri, but also encourages existing businesses to expand, adding jobs and spurring economic growth in local communities. Construction began on the $65 million expansion this winter and is expected to add 300 new jobs in the region.
Ameren Illinois is benefitting from a progressive regulatory environment that has enabled the company to invest billions of dollars to improve the reliability, resiliency and integrity of the energy delivery system.
Under the company’s electric modernization initiative, Ameren Illinois has installed storm-resistant utility poles and power lines, outage detection technology, and new facilities and substations that can accommodate future growth. The enhancements have resulted in a 19 percent reduction in annual electricity service interruptions on average and the company is restoring power on average 17 percent faster.
Ameren Illinois is also replacing older natural gas pipelines and facilities, and adding new gas distribution equipment and technology which will further enable the company to provide a safe, reliable natural gas system for years to come.
Ameren Illinois Chairman and President Richard J. Mark says whether it’s providing key data, identifying prime development sites or extending infrastructure to ensure that businesses have the capacity to operate, the company’s economic development team is at the table to assist in the site selection decision and help its service area compete for new investments and job creation.
It’s this dedicated focus, along with the state’s intrinsic advantages, that have helped Ameren Illinois stay competitive in a rapidly-changing market, and contributed to World Wide Technology’s decision to expand in the Metro East. The technology systems integrator and solutions provider is expected to open a $100 million, 2 million square foot industrial space in the Gateway Commerce Center in Edwardsville later this year. This move will add approximately 500 new jobs to its existing 1,500 person regional workforce.
The WWT project is one of many in recent years to bring world-class employers to the Metro East area. Amazon recently located two new fulfillment centers in Madison County and brought with it approximately 2,000 employees and a major new customer to the Ameren Illinois service area.
Legislation passed in the Illinois General Assembly in Dec 2016 is expected to bring additional business development to the state. The Future Energy Jobs Act created financial incentives that will spur development of green power (wind, solar, biogas, etc.) throughout the Midwest region. Ameren Illinois is actively working with renewable energy developers on interconnection applications that will facilitate their ability to connect green power to the delivery system.