The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Clemson’s Wind Turbine Center Represents More ‘Mission Creep’

with 2 comments

Clemson University’s tuition has nearly quadrupled over the past decade but the institution is committing millions of dollars in school resources to build a wind turbine testing center.

The Energy Department announced earlier this week it would give Clemson $45 million in stimulus money. State and private sources provided $53 million in matching funds, for a total of $98 million, according to the Associated Press, which did not provide a breakdown of the funding.

Clemson offered a mix of facilities, labor, land and cash to satisfy a federal requirement that grant recipients share 35 percent of the project’s total cost, according to Nick Rigas, director of the Restoration Institute’s renewable energy program.

The wind turbine testing center will be constructed at the university’s Restoration Institute in North Charleston.

Officials estimated that the facility will initially employ at least 100 people, but some say the overall job benefit could be exponentially greater.

The Energy Department has estimated that the wind industry in South Carolina could eventually provide anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 jobs.

However, it should be noted that that figure is pure conjecture at this point. It’s based on a Department of Energy plan in which 20 percent of U.S. power would be produced by wind by the year 2030.

The 10,000-20,000 jobs figure for South Carolina is an extrapolation from the Energy Department’s plan that includes several major assumptions, including: 

  • That 80 percent of turbine blades will be produced in the US by 2030, compared to 50 percent when the study was done in 2004;
  • That half of all wind towers will be manufactured in the US by 2030, compared to 26 percent five years ago; and
  • That 42 percent of turbines are made in the US by 2030, compared to 30 percent in 2004.

The Restoration Institute conducts research in six areas: advanced materials, processes and systems, community revitalization, historic preservation and materials conservation, renewable energy, resilient infrastructure and restoration ecology.

Its best-known project is the conservation of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.

In 2007, the State Budget and Control Board approved the issuance of $10.3 million in bonds for the institute, despite criticism that the move amounted to “mission creep,” the expansion of the university beyond its main campus.

A year earlier, North Charleston gave Clemson 82 acres of property at the old Charleston Navy Base, land appraised at $15 million.

While the school has continued expanding in willy-nilly fashion, tuition has jumped from just over $3,000 in 1999 to more than $11,000 this year, according to the S.C. Commission on Higher Education.

Ironically, on the same day in 2006 that Clemson approved fee increases that ended up costing some students up to $400 or more annually, it accepted the Hunley laboratory, setting the stage for the school to begin its North Charleston satellite campus.


Written by Cotton Boll Conspiracy

November 27, 2009 at 11:06 am

2 Responses

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  1. “The mission of Clemson University is to fulfill the covenant between its founder and the people of South Carolina to establish a “high seminary of learning” through its historical land-grant responsibilities of teaching, research and extended public service.”

    Research has been core to Clemson’s mission since it’s inception. There is nothing about this project that is mission creep.

    John Warner

    November 28, 2009 at 7:28 am

    • The previous post is obviously a big government advocate. In view of our current ecomomic crisis, it’s really sickening.


      December 3, 2009 at 4:40 pm

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