by Heather B. Hayes
Appalachian Power is offering a new incentive for companies to locate or expand operations in Southwest and Southern Virginia. On Aug. 1, AP began extending an electricity price discount of up to three years to new companies that use at least 1,000 kilowatts of electricity. Also eligible for the discount are existing businesses that bump up usage by that much and add jobs.
The economic development incentive, which kicked in after gaining approval from the State Corporation Commission, already has played a role in one project in Pulaski County.
Phoenix Packaging Operations, a subsidiary of the Bogotá, Colombia-based Phoenix Packaging Group, plans to put its North American headquarters in Pulaski.
The company, which will employ 240 people once it reaches capacity, began making plastic food containers in a 110,000-square-foot-factory in Dublin last May. The new discount can cut as much as 20 percent off the peak load portion of the company’s electricity bill, according to Todd Burns, a spokesman for Appalachian Power.
“If you’re a 1,000-kilowatt customer, you could save just under $95,000 over three years; if you’re a 2,000-kilowatt customer, it would be close to $200,000 and on up,” he says, noting that AP has recently received inquiries from several companies. “Those are real savings that could be used to hire more employees, offer more benefits, invest in growing the company, whatever.”
Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership, an economic development organization, says that the incentive is just one more tool she can use to market the region.
“I would never say it’s the incentive that will make all the difference in a decision because it is time-limited, but when you monetize it as part of the overall advantages and incentives to the region, it certainly helps,” she says. “I recently had AP help me run the numbers for an expansion project that we’ve been working for, and it’s real money. It can be quite significant.”
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