Lake Norman & Mooresville

New tower puzzles commuters

During the last several months, motorists have noticed an unexpected site emerge between exits 18 and 19 on Interstate 77.

The tall, white tower, which looks akin to a silo, has puzzled many residents on their drive home.

"Who would think of Huntersville as having any type of skyline, much less one that can be seen from I-77...?" Charlotte resident Coy Powell wrote in an email to Lake Norman News.

The 430-foot tower, located across the street from Lake Norman Charter School in the Commerce Station Business Park, is part of a company's recent expansion.

ABB, a Swiss engineering company that specializes in power and automation technology, selected the site in September 2010 to manufacture high-voltage land power cables for AC and DC applications.

The company hopes to use the smart-grid cables to allow power from renewable sources like wind and solar to reach homes and businesses, according to an ABB statement.

The tower will be used to form cables at high temperatures and then cool them, the statement said.

Although Huntersville commissioners approved the project in late 2010, it wasn't until August of this year that it was completed.

ABB invested about $90 million dollars in the new facility, which now employs more than 100 people, according to a company statement.

Worldwide, the company employs about 124,000 people in more than 100 countries. Its North American headquarters are in Cary.

According to company estimates, the Huntersville plant's creation contributed more than $20 million to the local economy. It's expected to generate $5 million locally every year it operates.