Seminole Touts Plans for Future


Seminole Electric Cooperative officials on Thursday announced there is a chance the company could build another power plant in Putnam County.

The power plant hosted an after-hours Putnam County Chamber of Commerce networking event, during which time Seminole CEO Lisa Johnson discussed how the company decides to plan for its future.

Johnson told government officials, business owners and everyone else in attendance Seminole plans for its needs now and years – even decades – in the future. The company is looking toward 2021 and beyond, she said, and Putnam could greatly benefit if Seminole needs a new plant.

“We’ve really got some stringent criteria we have to meet in order to make decisions,” Johnson said. “One of the decisions we have made at this point is if we decide that building a new power plant is either the solution or one of the solutions to meet our needs during that time frame, we decided that that power plant would be here at our Seminole plant.”

Johnson said Seminole thinks of its needs and how to benefit its consumers, and now, company officials are looking at a two-track plan of action.

The company will first look at the marketplace to see what other parties have to offer Seminole, she said. And depending on the marketplace, she said, the company will decide if building a new plant will be an option.

Local officials and residents were overjoyed at the prospect of building a new plant in Putnam County – and the economic windfall it will bring. But Johnson reiterated no concrete decision about building the new plant has been made.

“We haven’t made a decision, and we have a lot more work to do to get to a decision,” she said.

Seminole Communications Manager Ryan Hart said the company made plans to consider numerous locations to build the plant. And as of Thursday, he said, Putnam is the leader of the pack.

“We looked at several locations … and we eliminated the other options,” Hart said.

County Commission Chairman Chip Laibl, one of the people enthusiastically applauding Johnson’s speech, said a new power plant could do wonders for the county, which each year faces shrinking property tax revenues.

“At this point, the proposal is really game changing for Putnam County,” Laibl said. “If it does come to be, it will lure other investors. This one came out of nowhere, and it’s major.”

Laibl said he first heard about the potential plant only the morning before the chamber event.

The county is trudging through its budgeting process for the next fiscal year, and commissioners and county staff are facing depleted reserves, which for years have been used to balance the budget.

If Seminole and other companies build in Putnam County, it would be a surefire way to bring in more revenue and boost the local economy, Laibl said.

“Everyone’s talking about bringing homeowners,” he said. “But if you really want to grow your county rich, you need to grow the industrial and commercial aspects.”

Brenda Atkins, the Seminole Palatka plant director of operations, said one of Seminole’s objectives is “concern for community,” and the company strives to make their surrounding communities a better place.

She and Johnson said Seminole’s success is due in large part to its community partners, and they hope to carry on that partnership for years to come.

“Community service and community involvement is very important to Seminole Electric,” Atkins said. “And we couldn’t do it without you.”