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Companies Lured with 45% Electricity Discount

Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s biggest power producer, is offering discounts as high as 45 percent to businesses moving to or expanding in the state – but the deal may not help existing customers such as Alcoa.

Effective immediately, Santee Cooper is offering new industrial customers a 45 percent discount in the first year, 30 percent the second, 20 the third and 10 the fourth. The discount will be available through 2014, WCIV of Charleston, S.C. reports.

It will also apply to the new power usage of companies expanding their business, if these firms need at least one additional megawatt of firm energy load, WMBF reports.

In return, the companies must pledge to stay in the state for at least eight years. Firms must be located in an area served by Santee Cooper or by one of several energy co-operatives participating in the program.

Santee Cooper vice president of corporate communication Laura Varn said the deal is designed for large manufacturing companies. She said the state-owned utility brought in the discount because it feels a responsibility to contribute to economic development in South Carolina.

But existing Santee Cooper customers are not eligible unless they increase their power usage. Aluminum maker Alcoa has threatened to shut down a plant in Goose Creek, S.C. if it doesn’t get a better rate, and those negotiations continue.

Last year Alcoa announced that it cuts its greenhouse gas emissions to 22 percent below 2005 levels in 2010 – beating its 20 percent target one decade early. The company attributed the reductions to energy efficiency improvements and a shift to hydroelectric power, among other changes.

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