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Old 02-07-2011, 03:35 PM
 
1,101 posts, read 1,337,669 times
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City hopes to make hydro plant a tourist spot

Historic plant provided electricity to Columbia’s textile mills

By ADAM BEAM
abeam@thestate.com
http://media.thestate.com/smedia/2011/02/06/20/B82607399Z.1_20110206201333_000+G96281A8M.3-0.embedded.prod_affiliate.74.jpg (broken link) Most people don't realize that Columbia has a power plant, mostly because it has been operated by SCE&G for the last decade.
- Tim Dominick /The State

http://media.thestate.com/smedia/2011/02/06/20/B82607399Z.1_20110206201333_000+G96281A8C.3-0.embedded.prod_affiliate.74.jpg (broken link) Most people don't realize that Columbia has a power plant, mostly because it has been operated by SCE&G for the last decade. But the power plant hasn't turned into the cash machine the city though it would, and it has ended up costing the city several million dollars recently when it did not produce enough energy. City officals hope to change that by bringing in a new operator, Lockhart Power. The Upstate company has grand plans for the plant, including opening it up for tours of the historic buildings. These are the generators inside the plant.
- Tim Dominick /The State




CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS (http://www.thestate.com/2011/02/07/v-print/1682519/city-hopes-to-make-hydro-plant.html# - broken link)



Columbia officials are negotiating with a private company to operate the city’s hydroelectric power plant, hoping the century-old building can find new life as a tourist attraction and generate new revenue for the city.
The city has owned the plant since 2002, when SCE&G passed it to Columbia as part of the deal that also transferred ownership of the metro Columbia bus system to the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority.
But over the past decade, the plant has failed to be the power generator the city hoped it would be because of continued years of drought, according to city officials.
The plan was for SCE&G to continue to operate the plant and give the city a $1 million credit on its power bill every year. SCE&G gave the city the power credit, but for many years the plant failed to generate $1 million worth of electricity. The result left the city owing SCE&G $3.2 million, a debt the city will pay back, interest-free, over the next five years.
City officials are negotiating with Lockhart Power, a small public utility company in the Upstate, to take over the plant’s operation. The company has about 13,500 customers and already operates a hydroelectric power plant. An ordinance authorizing the city manager to negotiate a lease with Lockhart has been on the City Council’s agenda twice but has been delayed both times.
The plant is at the mouth of the Columbia Canal, between the Gervais Street bridge and the EdVenture Children’s museum, where the city is spending $6 million to build a park that will connect to the city’s popular Riverfront Park. City officials hope to incorporate the power plant into the park, cleaning it up and making it available for tours.
“We’re talking about putting a lot of investment in it and making it where kids can come, schools can come and be part of the tours,” City Councilman Daniel Rickenmann said.
Specifically, City Manager Steve Gantt said he wants EdVenture to include the plant as an educational exhibit on how to use water as a renewable energy source.
“The (company) we’re dealing with is very sensitive to the fact that it is historic, and they would like to provide some educational opportunities with the building,” Gantt said. “We hope to transform the exterior of that building back into its original condition, put windows back in and make it look like it did 100 years ago.”
The Columbia Canal has been many things over its nearly 200-year history, including a bypass for ships and home to a Confederate gunpowder factory during the Civil War. Built in 1819 by the state, the canal originally was intended as a way for riverboats to bypass the rapids on the Broad River.
By 1843, railroads had made the canal obsolete.
Over the next five decades, the state would lease the canal to three companies. All of them failed as businesses, reverting control of the canal back to the state. It wasn’t until 1896, when the Columbia Water Power Co. built the hydroelectric power plant, that the canal found its true calling: generating electricity.
The plant gave power to the Columbia Cotton Duck Mill, one of the first electrically powered textile mills in the world and now the site of the State Museum. The power plant later provided power to the Granby and Olympia mills, transforming the Midlands economy, according to Karen Kustafik, a former park ranger and now stormwater environmental specialist for Columbia.
“Once this (power plant) started, it really spurred the growth of textiles,” she said.
The mills since have closed, and the canal has found yet another use: providing drinking water for Richland County. But the hydro-power plant is still in operation, with two turbines spinning constantly, two others disabled and three more on standby.
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Old 02-07-2011, 03:38 PM
 
1,101 posts, read 1,337,669 times
Reputation: 184
Default Best of the Comments on It in the State

1) "And after touring the power plant, you can go by the new
SCE&G customer service center and pay your bill. Parking is behind the
substation. "

2) "Columbia. Famously Not!"

3) "Good news kids ! We're not going to Disney World this year ..
we're going to Columbia to see the POWER STATION ! "
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Old 02-09-2011, 07:44 AM
 
8,242 posts, read 13,364,466 times
Reputation: 2535
The Canal is popular so.. people may drop in (if its free) and tour this complex. I have not been down there in a while but I thought there was already a smaller version of this water works complex just to the left once you cross over the actual canal??? Now they will have two?? Dont get me wrong.. Its probably a good idea from a historic preservation perspective.. school kids and a few seniors will likely walk through.. but its not going to be like the Riverbanks Zoo or anything.

Riddle me this.. why hasnt the City explored offering boat rides down the Canal? Atleast that may draw in a few folks that want to see it from a different vantage point. They could make a dock at the Dam near Board River Rd/River Drive.. and ride it down to the Edventure/State Museum. They will need to keep plenty of life jackets.. because if you fall in you will end up coming out in someones bathtub and a little worse for wear.....
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Lexington, SC
1,066 posts, read 2,265,662 times
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Quote:
why hasnt the City explored offering boat rides down the Canal?
Good idea. I wonder if any of those trolley cars can float?
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:16 PM
 
50 posts, read 96,372 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodlands View Post
Riddle me this.. why hasnt the City explored offering boat rides down the Canal? Atleast that may draw in a few folks that want to see it from a different vantage point. They could make a dock at the Dam near Board River Rd/River Drive.. and ride it down to the Edventure/State Museum. They will need to keep plenty of life jackets.. because if you fall in you will end up coming out in someones bathtub and a little worse for wear.....
They have. Look at the concept art for the park. Planning and Development Services - City of Columbia Development Gateway
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:46 PM
 
5,593 posts, read 15,381,952 times
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I love the idea of a museum at the power plant and believe it would be very educational on multiple levels. The World of Energy in Oconee County has been a successful regional attraction for decades and is remotely located, whereas this would be near several other attractions in Columbia.
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:12 AM
 
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
12,918 posts, read 18,765,744 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyliner View Post
I love the idea of a museum at the power plant and believe it would be very educational on multiple levels. The World of Energy in Oconee County has been a successful regional attraction for decades and is remotely located, whereas this would be near several other attractions in Columbia.
I had thought of the tie-in as well. Actually, it will be a continuation of something I have already thought about many times when walking on the Canal Walk; that is, that the whole area is a place where nature and one of man's greatest inventions, if not the greatest: electricity (the whole hydro-electric thing), co-exist. Some can't see the forest for the trees.
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Old 02-11-2011, 03:06 PM
 
7,993 posts, read 12,863,294 times
Reputation: 2731
Interesting opinion piece on this "tourist" attraction.....

City mustn’t oversell hydro plant’s profit potential - Editorial - TheState.com (http://www.thestate.com/2011/02/11/1688614/city-mustnt-oversell-hydro-plants.html - broken link)
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
12,918 posts, read 18,765,744 times
Reputation: 3141
at every turn
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