HUNTERSVILLE – Lake Norman, the largest man-made body of fresh water in the state, formed when Duke Energy constructed Cowans Ford Dam in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
It’s named after former Duke Power President Norman Cocke and provides electricity to the Piedmont region by powering the generators at Cowans Ford Hydro Station in Huntersville. The water is also used at Marshall Steam Station in Terrell and McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville to cool the steam that drives their turbines.
Valerie Patterson, communications spokesperson at McGuire Nuclear Station, said that she knows of no plans to add onto the company’s existing area power plants or expand its infrastructure within the next five years.
“We’re still in the process of going through a merger with Progress Energy, and most of our new people have relocated from different plants within the company,” she said.
One of the biggest projects McGuire handles on a regular basis, according to Patterson, is modifying the plant and keeping it upgraded. In fall 2012, the plant received a new high-pressure turbine and generator stator it’s licensed to operate until 2041 and 2043 respectfully.
While Patterson said the company’s greatest demand for growth potential does not lie in the Lake Norman region, she did mention that in the near future, there will be new exhibits at the company’s EnergyExplorium in Huntersville regarding weather and the history of the Catawba River Basin.
On the other hand, Lime Energy, headquartered in Huntersville, proved tight-lipped about its future growth and expansion durng an interview earlier this year. The company provides utility companies, government agencies and private enterprises with “clean energy solutions, energy efficiency and renewable energy engineering and consulting services,” according to its website.
In August 2011, The Charlotte Business Journal reported Lime planned to add 50 to 75 employees to its ranks within two years.
Ashley Conger, corporate communications manager, said earlier this year that Lime “expected to restate our consolidated financials on March 31, 2013” and therefore “can’t provide any type of statement or comment around Lime’s growth plans.”
Lime announced April 17 that they had received a letter of non-compliance from NASDAQ because it had not filed its annual report on Form 10-K for the year ending Dec. 31, 2012. In January, NASDAQ threatened to delist the company stock. The company said it expects to file the Form 10-K as well as restating financial information for the years 2008-2011 and as well as other quarterly periods before June 30.
Located just six miles southeast of Lime off N.C. 115 is ABB’s 240,000-square-foot manufacturing complex.
The Huntersville hub creates high-voltage underground transmission cables that transport electricity, connect wind, solar and other non-traditional sources of energy to the power grid and replace dated, overhead transmission lines one often sees birds resting on while driving.
Senior Vice President of Business Development Allen Burchett likens the power grid to commuters traveling down I-85.
“Power is generated and then travels the interstate. This is the transmission grid,” he said. “Exits lead to secondary roads. These are akin to the distribution system that finally leads to your house. Efficient generation, transmission, distribution and usage of energy is the sweet spot of ABB.”
He said connecting renewable energy sources to the power grid is a challenge due to the variability of energy output from wind and solar farms.
Tony Velotta, production manager in Huntersville, added, “Our site employs 118 people, and there are plans to increase a few here and there, nothing drastic, a handful,” in the next few years.
While a few ideas for plant expansion and future growth are buzzing about, Velotta classified them as “proprietary information,” and was unable to release any details.
“We’re very interested in North Carolina becoming an energy state,” Melissa London, media relations manager, said. “I’ve heard our CEO, Joseph Hogan, say no other state has the concentration of smart grid resources and businesses to connect and promote energy needs.”
Prentis Trickett, vice president and general manager, agrees.
“The expansion of the transmission grid and the upgrading of existing transmission lines are forecasted to continue,” he said. “Our underground high-voltage cable business provides energy producers with a highly-reliable solution and means to... address highly congested or populated areas and provide a more aesthetic look for the local community.”