Council approves Duke relicensing agreement

By Ben Robinson

Courier Staff

COUNTY — Despite impassioned words from a Six Mile business owner in opposition and their unanimous rejection of the same measure last month, Pickens County Council members voted Monday night to reconsider and approve Duke Energy’s Keowee-Toxaway Stakeholder Relicensing Agreement.

Duke Energy’s current 50-year license expires in August of 2016, and Duke Energy and stakeholders have been working to apply for relicensing since 2009 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

County Council members voted unanimously last month to reject the relicensing agreement because of concerns over “problematic language” that has since been clarified.

Walker Miller, a Six Mile resident and co-owner of the Happy Berry, spoke to County Council Monday to voice his opposition to the proposed r-licensing.

“Water from the Keowee-Toxaway project, some of which is from the Pickens County portion of the watershed, is being sold by Duke Energy in the form of electrical energy from hydro-generation and nuclear cooling throughout the seven-state region,” Miller said.

“Not only Pickens County should not be forced to purchase water through Greenville’s regional water company, Duke Energy should provide reasonable annual funding, indexed to inflation, for the development and maintenance of infrastructure to supply water to residents, farmers, and industry,” Miller said. “Duke Energy’s sale of our water using the Keowee-Toxaway project versus the counties’ need for water and the counties’ income and residential taxes/fees should be on the negotiating table for the upcoming 40-year period.

“The negotiated agreement with regards to water as currently proposed should be presented to the residents in local newspapers.” Miller said. “The agreement development is a four-year process and another month or two, to be sure communication is facilitated, is small in comparison to the next 40 years after 2016.

“Global warming and population growth, as drivers, are reducing the availability of and increasing consumption of fresh water both worldwide and locally,” Miller said. “The county does not have aquifers to draw water from, therefore is dependent on surface water storage to provide for local food security, drinking/household needs and business growth.

“I attended two of the stakeholder meetings attempting to represent The Happy Berry, farming and local food security for our county and the bioregion,” Miller said. “It was plain to me that these would be ignored. I was not a necessary signatory. I thank Pickens County Council for recognizing the importance of the proposed agreement to the future of the county.”

Mother seeks skateboarding site

Tina Golightly addressed council seeking a safe skateboarding venue for her son.

Golightly said that it seems to be discriminatory that there is no place offered in the county for skateboarding.

“Why can’t our small community embrace the youth?” she asked.

When told that Simpsonville had a place where it was legal to skateboard, Golightly said that still would not help her because her son is not old enough to drive alone, therefore meaning his parents were responsible for taking him to skateboard.

Garbage dump break-ins

County administrator Chap Hurst reported that there have been numerous break-ins at the county’s courtesy dumping sites. The usual target has been batteries and copper, which the county recycles to help cover costs for the centers.

“People need to understand we’re not going to put up with this,” Hurst said.

Hurst said that Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark has made the arrests personally himself and has been very helpful in the situation.

“The sheriff is being very innovative,” Councilman Neil Smith agreed. “We appreciate what he is doing.”