By MARY RAINWATER
Anderson County Commissioners took another step in bringing a compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant to the county Friday, approving the establishment of a reinvestment zone for the operation during their regular meeting.
The $420 million Bethel Energy Center, part of Houston-based Apex, is set to be located in a 180-acre area off FM 2706 at ACR 2504 in northern Anderson County.
“This is the first step we take in granting them a tax abatement,” County Judge Robert Johnston said.
Tony Schum, an attorney for the Duff & Phelps firm of Austin that represents Apex, spoke to commissioners about the matter and presented a packet including relevant property owner and deed records and geographical studies on the site.
“We have made the property layout as tight as possible to allow for possible future expansion,” Schum said.
According to Apex’ website, CAES is unique in its ability to efficiently store and redeploy energy on a large scale in order to provide low-cost energy and enhance grid reliability.
A CAES power generation facility uses electric motor-driven compressors to inject air into an underground storage cavern and later releases the compressed air to turn turbines and generate electricity back onto the grid.
“It is less expensive than commercial batteries and is one of the fastest to get online,” Schum said. “It can be taken down or brought up in minutes. It is a benchmark of clean power storage.”
Jack L. Farley, president of Apex, announced the construction of the facility in July of 2012.
An average of 200 workers will be on the job during the project’s construction phase — said to take about three years, while 20 to 25 permanent jobs will be created as a result of the venture.
“There are only two other facilities like this in the world — in Germany and in Alabama,” Schum said, “ and it is only the second commercially operated CAES facility in the United States.”
Johnston and commissioners were pleased to have Apex make a home in Anderson County and reported a positive relationship with the company already.
“The facility will be in my district and we have met several times,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Rashad Q. Mims I said. “The people of Cayuga ISD are overwhelmed to have them here, both for the jobs it will bring and the increase to their tax base.”
Also on Friday, commissioners:
• APPROVED minutes from previous meetings, budget amendments and bills.
• APPROVED the placement of the Anderson County Humane Society on the list of charitable organizations in which jurors pay may be donated.
• APPROVED the transfer of a 14M2 Caterpillar Motor Grader from Precinct 1 to Precinct 4.
• APPROVED implementing a burn ban for Anderson County.
• TABLED a contract addendum for data processing services with LGS pertaining to indexes and images online.
• TABLED approving the county clerk to use Records Archive money to pay for the contract with LGS and giving the authority to the county auditor to replace the funds that are used with the revenue that is collected from images that are viewed.
• TABLED action on the amount that will be charged on a monthly basis to have access to view/print images online.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org