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Residents in Goose Creek voted Tuesday in favor of a referendum that will allow the city to create a municipal electric utility to supply Century Aluminum with power. File/Staff

Goose Creek residents voted Tuesday to allow the city's leaders to create a municipal electric utility to supply Century Aluminum's Mount Holly plant in Berkeley County.

The referendum passed with 1,177 city residents voting for the measure and 525 voters opposing the effort. 

The special election saw very little turnout. Only 7 percent of the city's more than 24,000 registered voters showed up at the polls to cast a ballot. 

Now that the referendum is approved, Goose Creek Mayor Greg Habib and the members of the city council can move ahead with their plans to create the first new municipal electric utility in the state in decades. 

Unlike other municipal utilities in South Carolina, Goose Creek only plans to supply electricity to one customer: Century Aluminum. But the referendum didn't mention the aluminum smelting company at all. 

All of the other city's residents will continue to be served by Berkeley Electric Cooperative. 

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If the utility is formed, it could fulfill a long-term goal for Century — buying power off the open market. It's a move the aluminum smelting company has sought for years. 

But the creation of the new utility could result in a legal fight between the city and Santee Cooper, which currently supplies power to Century's plant.

The leaders of Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-run utility, maintain that they have a legal right to serve the property Century is on. 

Reach Andrew Brown at 843-708-1830 or follow him on Twitter @andy_ed_brown.