September 22, 2013 12:11:21 AM
Cornerstone Park, an industrial site located south of the Miss. Highway 12 and Miss. Highway 25 bypass, has been submitted for at least two economic development projects after inventory and logistical analysis revealed 4-County Electric Power Association can commit more electricity than developers once believed.
Previously, officials assumed the area could only support a residential load. But Joey Deason, Oktibbeha County's representative with the Golden Triangle Development Link, said 4-County committed to a 2-megawatt load for the approximately 225-acre area owned by the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority.
The commitment, in tandem with the site's water and sewer capacity, allows the Link to aggressively market Cornerstone. The Mississippi Department of Transportation has been the park's sole tenant. A majority of the site has sat empty for years. Plans are in the works to give a parcel of the industrial park to the state for a future Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop G home.
"Cornerstone is back on the market," Deason said Friday. "The door has opened up a little. There are projects out there that do not require up to 2 megawatts of power. One project we submitted for didn't require an exorbitant amount of power, but it was enough that it excluded a lot of other communities."
4-County's commitment is dependent upon area demand, said Lynn Timbrook, the company's manager of engineering. The site is located about 4 to 5 miles away from two different substations that supply power to residents in the Bluefield Road area. As load growth increases, overall supply would likely decrease unless a new substation and transmission lines are constructed near the industrial park.
Engineers are working on a plan to improve capacity, but the project is years away from becoming a reality, Timbrook said. TVA would build the transmission lines, while 4-County would construct the substation, he said, but the project's approval requires economic solutions.
"TVA needs an economic justification to build the transmission lines, as does 4-County to construct a new substation. That...may be satisfied in two ways," he said. "The first way would be for a new economic development proposal to serve a new customer. For a new economic development project load that is larger than the existing available capacity, the time and cost to construct the amount of transmission line required and to build a special delivery substation to serve that new customer historically takes too long for that potential customer to wait and might be uneconomical for that new customer. Construction of the infrastructure based on purely speculative reasons is not an option.
"Over time, 4-County's load growth is increasing and is expected to eventually reach a threshold where a new general delivery substation in the area near Cornerstone will be needed, and we will work with TVA to get the necessary transmission service to such a substation," Timbrook added. "This would be the second way to improve the available capacity at Cornerstone, albeit an indirect way, since the capacity to the whole area is the intended recipient of the increased capacity. If and when that substation become a reality, 4-County's available capacity to Cornerstone would naturally increase due to shorter and much less loaded circuits, and the timing for serving a new customer in Cornerstone would be within reasonable limits that a new customer can live with it."
Combined, Starkville and the county possess $10 million in economic bonding capacity, but Deason said he does not expect to use those monies to increase Cornerstone's electrical capacity. He did recommend to OCEDA members last week that existing trees at the site should be cleared in order for prospects to better visualize potential projects.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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