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Clemson agrees to relocate Duke Energy power plant

Clemson University will find a new location for the proposed Duke Energy CHP (combined heat and power) plant after the board of trustees recommended that it be moved from a controversial site just 100 feet from some residential areas.
The finance and facilities committee met on April 20 and recommended that university leadership find a site west of Highway 76, away from adjacent neighborhoods and closer to the main campus.
The university had originally chosen a 1.5-acre site on university-owned land behind the National Guard Armory, which is located on the eastern side of Highway 76, for the 16-megawatt, $50.8 million facility.
“The board has provided university leadership with clear direction that this important facility must not only serve the university’s needs but also must be located and constructed in a manner that is respectful of our community neighbors,” executive vice-president for Finance and Operations Brett Dalton said in a statement. “The university is appreciative of the board’s leadership on this issue as well as of our ongoing partnership with Duke Energy.”
University trustees initially approved an agreement between Clemson University and Duke Energy in April 2016 for construction of the facility, which would burn natural gas and include two 75-foot-tall emission stacks. As a part of that agreement, Duke Energy would sell excess steam to the University which would be used for heating campus buildings.
A group of Clemson residents living in the Vineyard Road and Roslyn Drive neighborhoods pushed back against the project after learning of the proposed site, citing concerns about the height of the smokestacks, emanating noise and environmental impact.
Tanya Hyatt, one of the main objectors to the plant, said she was initially “in shock and disbelief” when she heard “that the plant would be moved from near the Clemson neighborhoods.”
“I’m grateful that the university that we love and have committed to serve chose to love their neighbor,” Hyatt said. “Through the process of resisting the power plant location, my family learned that grassroots works, politicians aren’t bad people, our neighborhood is worth fighting for and sometimes a movement needs someone or a family to take the lead.”
Peter Hyatt, Tanya Hyatt’s husband, told The Tiger his reaction was the same as his wife’s.
“My first response was disbelief because in the beginning I was doubtful we would stop it. We found out about the plans for the power plant so late in the process — they were already drilling 50 foot holes next to our home testing for the foundation,” he said. “This process has taught me and my family that it’s worth sticking your neck out there for the sake of those that need a voice. I was able to have good conversations with my children teaching them that people are
more important than money and power. I was able to share with them that any worthy leader always fights with integrity for what is right despite what it costs them, even their acceptance of people. They get it now.”
State Rep. Gary Clary, R-Pickens, who assisted the opposition, thanked the board of trustees and Clemson University President Jim Clements “for such quick response to resolve this issue and to make the decision to relocate the power plant to the west side of U.S. Highway 76,” on Facebook, adding that it shows “what a grassroots effort can accomplish.”
The board’s recommendation comes a week after the university announced a “complete reevaluation” of the proposed site due to concerns raised by residents and local representatives, however the university did not commit at that time to moving the plant.
In a press release announcing the relocation decision, the university said it is already evaluating alternative sites and “hopes to complete that review in the near future so that work can move forward on the project.”
Clemson does not expect the reevaluation to delay the project, which is expected to begin operations in spring 2019.

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