Faurecia’s power needs generate changes

Bartholomew County REMC representatives say they face a tight deadline to provide enough power to Faurecia’s new manufacturing plant at the former Walesboro airport property.

Planned upgrades will provide enough power for only Faurecia, not any other companies that might be considering the site for development, REMC officials said.

In May, the Columbus City Council approved selling nearly 36 acres at the airport site to Faurecia for slightly more than $1 million and approved a 10-year tax abatement for the company.

Faurecia, which produces exhaust systems for automakers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler and is also a Cummins supplier, plans to invest $61 million for the new 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. The new facility, already underway, will be located next to the company’s research and development center at 950 W. County Road 450S, near County Road 175W.

Jim Turner, the utility’s CEO, told Columbus Aviation Board members Tuesday that the electrical load requirement Faurecia requires is not available now. However, he said REMC is working as quickly as it can to provide enough power for Faurecia.

He said REMC is hurrying to determine Faurecia’s electrical needs and how the utility can supply electricity to the new building. He described the 9 megawatts load requirements for the building as large.

“Currently on site, we do not have the capacity to deliver that. With minor adjustments we can deliver 4 megawatts,” Turner told the aviation board.

REMC plans to have 4 megawatts supplied to the plant by November and has been told by the company it needs to be up to 9 megawatts by March 1.

To get to 9 megawatts, Turner said, the electric company will need to use a nearby Woodside Industrial Park electrical substation. Power will then be routed through underground cables that will follow current sewer and water lines leading into the Walesboro property, he said.

Turner said the bigger issue is that the electrical provider needs to be informed about future development of the park as REMC does not have the ability to provide more power to additional companies without building another substation, which takes far more time to plan and execute than what the company is preparing for Faurecia.

“We need to be involved from the get-go,” Turner said.

The city hired HWC Engineering of Indianapolis on Sept. 17 as a consultant to develop a work plan to prepare the Walesboro property as an industrial park. This includes researching preliminary engineering for utilities, sanitary sewer, streets, sidewalks and more.

Airport director Brian Payne said future streets or other improvements on the property would not be affected as REMC plans to seek easements along current utility lines.

REMC will need to run the lines through property owned by Force Construction in the Woodside Industrial Park, but the company has already granted permission, Turner said. The lines also could serve any building that would go on the Force Construction property, he said.

About Faurecia's new plant

Faurecia employs 1,635 between its manufacturing facility at 601 Gladstone Ave. in Columbus and the research and development center, which is on the edge of the Walesboro property south of Columbus.

The new plant should generate 131 new jobs by December 2017, with average salaries at $55,000, said Bill Bowling, Faurecia’s industrial director for manufacturing engineering.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.