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Money spinner: in 2019 alone, The Tennessee Valley Authority helped create or retain 66,500 jobs and attracted investment worth $8.9bn


For example, North Carolina-headquartered private utility Duke Energy, helped Nestlé Purina PetCare in its US expansion plans at the end of 2020. Duke worked with local governments to


help bring two Nestlé pet food factories — one $450m investment into a former brewery in North Carolina and another new $550m facil- ity in Ohio. “We have a seat at that table because elec-


tricity is one of the top manageable costs for a manufacturer considering new sites,” John Geib, Duke Energy’s director of North Carolina economic development, said in a statement. The cost of electricity can vary widely across


the US, according to investment destination comparison tool fDi Benchmark, ranging from an estimated 2.88 cents per kWh in Nevada to 23.38c/kWh in Hawaii.


Technical expertise While a company making a decision about where to locate will approach a mix of third parties, such as site selection consultants, law- yers and government officials, utilities are often indispensable due to their expertise. “The utility company brings technical


depth … they can make or break most of our projects,” says Mr Crum, clarifying that a lot of his work is in energy intensive projects that require engineering expertise, such as refiner-


February/March 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com


ies, petrochemical plants and data centres. Utilities will also provide this technical


assistance throughout the lifecycle of invest- ment projects. EPB, an electric power and tele- communications company owned by the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, helped Volkswagen set up its assembly plant in 2008, but continues tomaintain its power infrastructure to this day. “Our work begins long before a site selec-


tion process starts, and continues through con- struction and beyond, to ensure optimal start- up and operation conditions for our industrial and commercial customers,” says J Ed Marston, the vice president ofmarketing at EPB.


‘High load’ focus As utility companies serve communities in dif- ferent parts of the country and can have dis- tinct ownership structures — being either investor-owned, publicly owned or a coopera- tive — their involvement in economic develop- ment can vary. “Utilities in the south-east and Midwest


tend to be the most active within economic development, but this varies relative to individ- ual state policies,” says Mark Williams, the pres- ident of SouthCarolina-based site selection con- sultancy Strategic Development Group. “You tend to see utilities more involved


where projects have larger electric loads, such as in industrial and data centre projects,” he


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