Groundbreaking Held for Plum Point Energy Station
A day that has been long awaited by many finally arrived on Wednesday, May 31, as ground was broken on the Plum Point Energy Station in Osceola.
The groundbreaking ceremony began at 2 p.m. in a field on the outskirts of Osceola. Mayor Dickie Kennemore served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. The first speaker Kennemore introduced was Jason Hochberg, president of LS Power Development, LLC. Hochberg and project manager Eric Crawford presented Kennemore with an Irish crystal commemorative in appreciation for his efforts. The crystal was engraved “Dickie Kennemore, Mayor of Osceola, In appreciation for the city’s support and assistance, Plum Point Energy Station Groundbreaking, May 31, 2006, Presented by LS Power Development, LLC.”
Hochberg said the company has also planted three plum trees and a plaque in front of city hall in honor of the mayor. Hochberg thanked the city of Osceola and project manager Crawford for all their hard work over the past few years to make Plum Point a reality.
He also announced a special gift LS Power will be giving to an Osceola High School senior.
“We believe strongly in giving back to the community,” Hochberg said. He then announced that LS Power would be giving an annual four-year scholarship to an Osceola High School senior who will major in math or science.
Hochberg concluded by inviting everyone to return in the summer of 2010 when the plant is fired up for the first time.
Kennemore then introduced Edd Hargett, general manager for East Texas Electric Cooperative. Hargett said he was proud to represent Texas Electric at the event.
Brad Beecher, vice president for The Empire District Electric Company, was next on the program. Beecher said, “Plum Point will help us meet our customer’s needs.” He praised the employees at LS Power and said they did a wonderful job on the project.
Kennemore next introduced Duncan Kincheloe, the general manager and CEO of the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC).
“It’s a big day for Osceola and a big day for lots of other communities taking part in MJMEUC,” he said. Piggott is one of the communities purchasing power from Plum Point through MJMEUC. Mayor Gerald Morris and utility superintendent Ted Bellers represented the city at the ceremony.
Kincheloe said the Plum Point Energy Station is an effort to keep energy affordable.
Geoff Wilson, executive director of the Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi, said that the project has truly been a time game. He praised LS Power for working to put together a private and public project. Wilson said he is very pleased to be a part of the project.
Kingsley Glasgow, policy advisor for economic development and technology with the governor’s office, read a letter from Gov. Mike Huckabee who was unable to attend the event.
In the letter, Huckabee congratulated Mississippi County and the city of Osceola on the 665 megawatt coal-powered plant, which will bring a large sum of money into the state’s economy and create numerous jobs.
The keynote speaker for the event was Congressman Marion Berry. He opened his remarks by asking everyone to remember the country’s servicemen and women. He asked the crowd to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.
Berry said he does numerous ceremonies like these, but that he was very pleased to be here for the groundbreaking of Plum Point.
“I would submit to you today that the Delta is moving forward like it hasn’t since cotton seed was unloaded here,” he said. “It’s like we just discovered the Mississippi River and all the wonderful things it brings and businesses just discovered it too.”
Berry continued by saying he is more excited about the future of the Delta now than he has been recently and he hopes he gets to see how “it ends up”. Berry said its like being 2/3 of the way through a good book, “You want to know how it ends.”
He concluded that Plum Point proves there is nothing more powerful than the people when they get together and work to accomplish a goal.
The group then adjourned outside for the official turning of the dirt before returning to the country club in town for a reception. During the reception, Kennemore presented Crawford with a Key to the City and his wife, Karen, with a gift of appreciation.
The economic impact of Plum Point is mind-boggling. The plant will result in over $1 billion being invested in Northeast Arkansas. During the four-year construction period hundreds of local construction workers will be employed. Over $200 million will make up the construction payroll. Hundreds of millions of dollars are expected to be spent on local goods and services to support the construction.
The project will also employ 100 full-time staff members, with an annual payroll estimated to be $7 million. Significant tax revenues will be generated by sales and use taxes and annual PILOT payment to local taxing districts.
Millions of dollars will be spent annually to support the operation of the facility and it will provide low-cost energy for continued economic growth in the region.
Plum Point will generate enough electricity to serve an estimated 650,000 homes. Construction on the plant began in April of this year. The commercial operation is targeted for the summer of 2010.
The Piggot Times © 2001
Jennifer Vernon, Times News Staff