Top Utilities: The Power Behind Growth

The leading utilities are finding innovative ways to seal the deal on new development projects. They’re also ahead of the curve on low-cost efficiency, smart-grid technology and the conversion to renewables.

By the BF Staff
From the March/April 2017 Issue

We’ve chosen our Top Utilities based on a variety of factors, including active involvement in securing economic development projects, availability of low-cost energy, infrastructure (including smart-grid tech) and development of renewable energy, among others.

High-tech growth sectors, including data center hubs proliferating across the country, are making the availability of low-cost power a top priority in making their final site-selection decisions.

utilitiesUpgrading electric power infrastructure also has become imperative for utilities in order to maintain their leadership positions in the power pecking order. The drive for energy efficiency is fueling the installation of smart-grid technology; the continuing expansion of installed renewable energy capacity also is requiring utilities to adapt power grids that can accommodate the sporadic energy surges provided by wind and solar.


Gov. John Bel Edwards and Entergy Corp. recently broke ground on Entergy Louisiana LLC’s new 980-megawatt power station in St. Charles Parish, which will provide additional energy more efficiently for Entergy Louisiana’s more than 1 million electric customers.

Entergy Louisiana will make an $869 million capital investment in the St. Charles Power Station, with the economic impact of the plant felt statewide. The new plant will significantly reduce fuel costs for all Entergy Louisiana customers and increase reliability in the region from east of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area to the Mississippi state line and south to the Gulf of Mexico, including greater New Orleans.

At the peak of building activity, the project will generate 700 construction jobs on site and support 3,400 indirect jobs in the state. On a permanent basis, Entergy Louisiana will create 31 new direct jobs for the operation of the St. Charles Power Station, with an average annual salary of more than $72,300, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project also will result in 97 permanent new indirect jobs, for a total or more than 120 new jobs in the Southeast Region and surrounding areas.

“Our economy and our way of life in Louisiana rely upon dependable, affordable electricity,” Gov. Edwards said. “Not only is Entergy one of our most important corporate employers, with headquarters in New Orleans, Entergy supplies more power to customers in the state of Louisiana than anyone. After a long, constructive process with our Public Service Commission, Entergy Louisiana is moving forward with this highly efficient power plant project that will benefit customers across the state. We’re excited to support them in providing more power to our people, in a more efficient way than ever before.”

The new combined-cycle, natural gas-fired plant in Montz will save Entergy Louisiana customers more than $1.3 billion over the anticipated 30-year life of the plant. The new St. Charles Power Station will cut carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 40 percent, compared with older-generation gas-fired plants.

Entergy currently employs approximately 800 people in St. Charles Parish, including the Waterford 3 nuclear power plant. The economic impact from construction of the plant will be felt statewide, but it will be strongest in St. Charles Parish and the adjoining St. John the Baptist Parish. The construction phase of the St. Charles Power Station will produce $973 million in new business sales and $198 million in new household earnings in the two-parish region, according to an economic impact analysis by economist Loren Scott.

Entergy Louisiana has selected CB&I as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the St. Charles Power Station. CB&I, which employs more than 7,000 Louisiana residents, will complete the project in conjunction with an Entergy management team. The launch of commercial operations for the new power plant is expected in June 2019.

Entergy Louisiana LLC provides electric service to more than 1 million Louisiana customers. Additionally, the company provides natural gas service to nearly 93,000 customers in the greater Baton Rouge area. With operations in southern, central and northeastern Louisiana, the company is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenue of approximately $11.5 billion and more than 13,000 employees.


At FirstEnergy, a long legacy of contributing to the prosperity and vitality of our communities continues today and takes many forms—from providing its customers with safe, reliable, affordable and clean electricity, to supporting economic development efforts that create jobs, sustain local suppliers and attract new businesses.

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. Its subsidiaries are involved in the transmission, distribution and generation of electricity, and its 10 utility operating companies form one of nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems based on more than 6 million customers served.

With more than 15,000 employees working in a nearly 65,000-square-mile area of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York, this utility 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 more than half of the U.S. population and its buying power. Our region also benefits from ongoing investments in education, infrastructure, transportation and industry.

FirstEnergy is committed to building a bright future for its employees, their families and the communities where we live and work. In fact, over the past decade, its economic development activities have helped facilitate nearly $27 billion in capital investment and create more than 75,000 jobs in its six-state footprint.

FirstEnergy’s Economic Development team promotes its 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. FirstEnergy also offers advanced analytics tools that provide customized and detailed economic forecasting, and support and sponsor community-based business retention and expansion initiatives.

For example, the utility recently partnered with local and state economic development agencies in Ohio to build a strong business case that convinced manufacturer Charter Steel to choose the Cleveland area for a $150 million expansion that will create new jobs and strengthen the region’s economy. FE also is collaborating with Penn State University on its ambitious Invent Penn State initiative, which is focused on spurring economic development, job creation and student career success in Pennsylvania.

Access to reliable power at stable, affordable prices is necessary to keep our region competitive and support economic development initiatives. Toward this goal, FE is making significant investments to upgrade its electric system through its Energizing the Future program—a multibillion-dollar initiative to strengthen our transmission system through projects that make sense for our customers and are a source of family-sustaining jobs.

With the inclusion of automated advanced equipment in our substations, FE no longer must wait for field crews to operate line switches during outage events, which significantly improves our 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.

With some of the world’s most promising shale fields located directly beneath our service area, FE believes manufacturing growth and other business opportunities resulting from shale gas development could be the basis for a second industrial revolution in our region. FE is taking significant steps to leverage the economic potential of shale-related projects across our footprint in the tri-state shale region.

For instance, FirstEnergy is constructing a new transmission substation near Burgettstown, Pa., that will reinforce the regional transmission system and support the area’s expanding shale gas industry, while benefiting more than 40,000 customers. In addition, shale gas development is being supported by projects in West Virginia, including the 18-mile Oak Mound-Waldo Run transmission line, which also will enhance service reliability for thousands of customers.

We consistently promote the ability of our electric utilities to meet the energy needs of new and existing businesses. Our 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.

While our industry continues to change at a rapid pace, our mission remains the same—producing and delivering safe, reliable, affordable and clean electricity to our customers. For over a century, we’ve been providing this essential service to customers who count on our product to power their businesses, and to bring greater comfort, convenience, safety and productivity to their everyday lives.

Whether we’re 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 we’re privileged to serve.


Smart Sites™ are a slam-dunk choice for companies that are ready to grow now, said Brenda Daniels, economic development manager for ElectriCities of North Carolina. Smart Sites are located in some of the best places in America to live and do business. We represent more than 70 North Carolina Public Power cities and towns, and we created the Smart Sites qualification program to assist our members in developing ready-to-build sites.

The Smart Site (or S2) designation guarantees that a site has met stringent requirements and is “shovel-ready” for immediate development.

Each Smart Site has municipal electric service, water and sewer access within 500 feet, and is within five miles of an Interstate or Interstate-quality highway. Potential sites undergo an extensive review process by engineers and other experts, and S2 sites are periodically recertified to ensure accurate, reliable data. ElectriCities offers multiple Smart Sites across the state, with more coming on every month.

Faster construction, fewer uncertainties and less risk for companies and site selectors alike—that’s the genius of the Smart Sites program.

But that’s only part of the story. You see, when you choose a Smart Site, you’re also choosing the superior customer service municipally owned and operated electric distribution systems are know for. And you’re making a green choice, too—a significant percentage of our power comes from low-carbon and carbon-free sources, and that percentage will continue to rise as we implement more clean energy technologies.

One of ElectriCities’ roles is to represent member communities to expanding and relocating companies. We maintain comprehensive databases for all our municipalities in North Carolina. Prospects can order detailed reports on dozens of sites, from mountains to coast. Within 48 hours of a request, ElectriCities will send profiles of locations that precisely match the company’s specifications. “They find all the information they need in one place,” says Brenda Daniels, the organization’s economic development manager.

In addition, ElectriCities offers a certified industrial park that it has dubbed a “Prime Power Park,” which offers 12 MW of on-site backup power generation. The park is in the city of Albemarle, located in the Piedmont’s lake country. The Albemarle Park has direct rail access from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, clearly qualifying the area as a great rail intermodal site. “If a company has a critical operation that can’t risk a power outage, they have a backup available, and don’t have to spend the money to purchase a generator,” Daniels adds.

The Smart Sites and Prime Power Park, like the rate-lowering services to all ElectriCities’ customers provide ongoing incentives for companies looking for an ideal logistics location.

ElectriCities remains a partner through the entire site-selection process, helping companies with utility-related issues, arranging site visits, and facilitating contact with local, county and state officials.

And these companies recognize the cost efficiencies and superior customer service public power provides. Municipal utilities don’t have to pay dividends to shareholders, and those savings can be passed on to the utilities’ customers.

“It’s no coincidence that some of the state’s most dynamic growth has occurred in our public power communities. Advanced manufacturing, food processing, metalworking, plastics—any power-intensive industry is going to find significant advantages here,” said Daniels.

ElectriCities remains a partner through the entire process, helping companies with utility related issues, arranging site visits, and facilitating contact with local, county and state officials.

Call us today for quick and confidential answers to your questions, or to schedule a Smart Sites tour. If you’re planning to start, expand or relocate a business, it’s a no-brainer. For more information, contact Brenda Daniels, Manager, Economic Development, Office: (919) 760-6363, Mobile: (919) 218-7027,


Flip a switch and the light comes on. Plug in your computers and get plugged in. Turn on the water and it flows.

Santee Cooper is the primary source of electricity across South Carolina through its 20 electric cooperatives. The utility offers direct power delivery to Charleston Air Force Base, 12 municipalities and 26 large industrial customers in SC. (Photo: Santee Cooper)

This is what Santee Cooper delivers, every day, across South Carolina. They also deliver the intangibles that people never see, such as leadership, environmental stewardship and an economic environment attractive to new business—all of which builds a brighter South Carolina for everyone.

Santee Cooper, one of the nation’s largest public power utilities, provides electricity to all 46 counties in South Carolina. For more than 80 years, they have been breaking new ground by creating safe, reliable, energy-saving solutions that support the business community and ultimately improve the quality of life for South Carolinians. Today Santee Cooper is the primary source of electricity across the state through its 20 electric cooperatives, and offers direct power delivery to Charleston Air Force Base, 12 municipalities and 26 large industrial customers.

Santee Cooper has earned the American Public Power Association’s prestigious Diamond RP3 award for outstanding reliability, and in 2015 its transmission system customers were without power on average just a few minutes all year. The company’s constant focus on quality delivery and reliability is one of the many reasons they can offer the lowest industrial costs in South Carolina, and is 25 percent below the national average for industrial electric costs.

Santee Cooper also understands the importance of maximizing its natural resources and is proud of its record in renewable generation, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. The company has been the state’s pacesetter when it comes to Green Power and renewable energy. Santee Cooper’s recycling initiatives have earned industry accolades, and has attracted national attention for its innovative program to recycle coal ash. The power company’s comprehensive Reduce The Use campaign offers various rebates, incentives and low-interest financing to encourage customers to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses.

Santee Cooper’s diverse generating portfolio combines natural gas, nuclear, coal, hydro and renewable resources. They have partnered with SCE&G in the ongoing expansion of V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. Nuclear power is virtually emissions-free and is an important asset as Santee Cooper works to meet imminent emissions regulations. Nuclear also offers low long-term operating costs.

Through Santee Cooper’s discounted industrial rate, eligible new or expanding industries can receive an initial, significant discount off the demand charge in your “firm” industrial rate. Industrial customers must meet minimum employment and capital investment requirements to qualify.

“Santee Cooper is committed to doing all we can to attract new industry and jobs to South Carolina, and to encourage existing industry to expand here,” said Lonnie Carter, president and CEO.


Economic development is a key component of National Grid’s commitment to its regions and communities. Our company’s team of dedicated economic development professionals brings a wealth of knowledge, talent and resources to bear on the critical mission of attracting and expanding capital investment and jobs in our service area. National Grid and its predecessors have provided ongoing economic development programs and services for over 75 years.

National Grid’s Economic Development Grant Programs are funded at $16 million per year in NY. Grants from these programs support development by funding customer infrastructure improvements, community development, marketing and productivity projects. In fiscal year 2016, our programs supported projects generating more than $535 million in new capital investment and creating or retaining 4,500 new jobs. Since 2003, our grants have leveraged $8.9 billion in private investment and assisted with the creation/retention of almost 40,000 jobs.

Examples include:

  • A $250,000 Brownfield Redevelopment grant to The Buffalo Lafayette, LLC to enable the restoration of the Lafayette Hotel in downtown Buffalo.
  • A $221,000 Capital Investment Incentive grant to Fulton Companies of Pulaski, NY to support their 112,000 square-foot expansion.
  • A $90,000 grant to the Center for Economic Growth to support a multi-year, strategic marketing program to attract high tech manufacturing to the Capital region.

National Grid helps regions and communities define their business attraction targets and develop strategies for reaching them. Among the services and support provided are:

  • Sites and buildings database and GIS capability on
  • Direct sales calls to site selectors, corporate real estate executives and prospects
  • Strategic grants for regional marketing and outreach
  • Cooperative marketing grants for cities and counties

National Grid’s Manufacturing Productivity Program has helped 150 manufacturers invest in their facilities and become more productive. A variety of urban redevelopment, small town revitalization, brownfield reclamation and industrial site development programs are provided to make our regions and communities more competitive and “shovel-ready” for sustainable economic development.

Capital Investment Incentive grants, 3-Phase Power Incentive grants and Industrial Building Redevelopment Program grants help companies and developers with power quality and infrastructure costs associated with business growth.

Groundbreaking Emergency Economic Development Programs helped rebuild flood-ravaged communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Strom Lee, Superstorm Sandy and other natural disasters. These emergency grant programs have provided over $15 million in relief and have helped nearly 400 businesses rebuild and rehire over 5,000 employees. For more info, visit or email