Clean Tech gives deadline to Stanly

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 22, 2011

By Karissa Minn
BADIN — Clean Tech said Monday that if no agreement is reached with Stanly County and Alcoa by Dec. 15, it will no longer consider coming to Badin.
Clean Tech Silicon and Bar, a green energy company that makes silicon for the solar industry and recycles scrap metal into rebar, has said it wants to build a $300 million manufacturing plant and bring hundreds of jobs to Badin.
But in a letter delivered Monday, the company told Stanly County Commissioners that it will rule out the Badin site — located at Alcoa’s former Badin Works aluminum smelting plant — if an agreement cannot be reached by Dec. 15.
Clean Tech says it is also considering sites in Mississippi and other states.
Stanly County Manager Andy Lucas said Monday that he received Clean Tech’s letter, but he doesn’t know if it’s possible to meet the deadline it sets.
“I’m not optimistic, given that it’s just such a complex issue, and there’s a lot of details,” Lucas said. “Certainly, the process takes a long time.”
He said the county has been in discussions with Alcoa and Clean Tech as other deadlines — June 30 and Aug. 31 — have come and gone.
That doesn’t mean the company isn’t serious, Lucas said. He added that the Stanly County wants to continue to talk with the two companies and see what happens.
In a press release sent Monday, Alcoa Power Generating Inc. said it is offering Clean Tech an incentive package that depends on the renewal of the company’s license for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project.
Stanly County has filed legal challenges that have delayed the relicensing process.
The county has said in a press release that it is “seeking fair and reasonable compensation for the long-term use of the river.”
The Clean Tech project would employ 250 people with an average annual salary of $55,000 and create another 200 related jobs with an average annual salary of $40,000.
The company offered again in its letter to meet with county officials and discuss how to make that project a reality, according to Alcoa’s press release.
“Badin is an ideal location for our company and we are ready to move forward with this project immediately and create jobs. But we cannot continue to wait on the sidelines for the Stanly County Commissioners to act,” wrote John Correnti, chairman of Clean Tech and former CEO of Nucor.
Alcoa is offering incentives that include an investment into Clean Tech’s joint venture, the press release said, and other support that would significantly lower operating costs.
The hydroelectric project would fund some of those incentives.
According to Alcoa, the Dec. 15 deadline is driven by the expiration of Clean Tech’s project development agreement with Alcoa and other business partners.
In an effort to reach an agreement with Stanly County, Alcoa offered a deal including financial commitments earlier this month.
The company has pledged to bring hundreds of new jobs generating $30 million in annual pay. It also says it will attract $400 million in investments, generating more than $2 million in tax revenue for Stanly County.
Finally, the company has offered to give $6 million to the county for public education and other pressing community needs.
Alcoa says if it fails to meet those commitments, it will provide up to $1.2 million a year to the county for the next 40 to 50 years.
But Lucas said there are no legal or long-term assurances that Alcoa will hold up its end of the deal.
“Unless those things become a reality,” he said, “our board just doesn’t see a reason to move from where they are.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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