PSC Approves $9.4 Million Regional Gas Line Project
The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a $9.4 million natural gas line project that will tie into recently completed lines in Wheeler County and ultimately impact several area counties.
The PSC gave approval to Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) to construct the second phase of the multimillion dollar natural gas line upgrade that will eventually boost supply into Emanuel, Montgomery, Toombs, Treutlen and Wheeler Counties. The project connects a Southern Natural Gas Co. interstate pipeline, which crosses in Wheeler County, to a tap line in Alamo, and enables extensions from this point.
The nearly 8-mile project is estimated to exceed approximately $30 million and will allow for more economic development in this area. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. The pipeline infrastructure in the Wheeler County area is currently constrained and will require upgrades within established easements or rights-of-way that parallel State Highway 280 between the cities continued from page
of Alamo and Glenwood in Wheeler County.
AGL previously upgraded over 8,000 feet of pipeline in the Alamo area and with the recent PSC approval construction will soon begin on another 10,500 feet along the route. The final phases, yet to be designed or approved, would complete the remaining 21,200 feet of the route.
The Greater Vidalia Chamber, Senator Blake Tillery, R-19, of Vidalia, and the late Senator Jack Hill have been strong advocates for boosting natural gas opportunities into the area. The project is being funded through the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the PSC and is used, in part, to extend natural gas service into underserved and unserved areas of the state.
“This project will have regional significance. It will be a game changer with regard to future success for landing industrial projects. You have to have natural gas capacity. It is a huge tool in recruiting new industries to an area,” said PSC member Jason Shaw of Lakeland.
Both residential and commercial customers will benefit from the substantially increased gas line capacity.
The first phase of the gas line project was approved in the 2019 Universal Services Plan. In that plan, AGL, a subsidiary of Southern Company, completed over 8,000 feet of the proposed 40,000-foot project along its right-ofway at a cost of about $4 million. This phase was completed in December 2020, and ended in Alamo at Highway 126. The second phase involves replacing 10,500 feet of existing 6-inch pipeline with 12-inch pipeline that will run from Highway 126 in Alamo to Bear Creek. Prior to the modifications, AGL determined that this pipeline had achieved maximum capability and that no further significant growth in these areas of the state could be supported by this pipeline. In the recent past, economic development and legislative entities, including the Toombs County Development Authority, have expressed a desire to procure additional gas supply capability to enhance the ability to attract commercial and industrial growth to this area, according to a PSC document describing the project.
“The goal is to enhance job growth in these five counties,” said PSC Chair Tricia Pridemore of the gas line project. “These counties have an educated and willing workforce in place, access to the Interstate, all of the basics for success. They need the infrastructure to support their goals. We see so much potential for this area of the state.”
Pridemore said future phases of the gas line project will take the line through Glenwood in Wheeler County and eastward along U.S. Highway 280, but plans for continuing the USF project are down the road.
Shaw noted, “I have a passion, going back to when I was in the Legislature to help rural communities. This is one of the biggest things we can do to help rural Georgia, making sure the rural communities have access to natural gas, just like industries in more populated areas.”
He continued, “We have been really focused on expanding natural gas capacity in rural communities where they are having an issue. Governor Kemp is working hard on rural economic development, and natural gas capacity is a huge key to that. If you are going to draw a large industrial prospect to the area, many times they are large load natural gas users. Laying new lines to expand current services and increasing pressure on existing lines are longterm projects. We are going to work with Sen. Tillery and the Governor’s office to make sure we can expand the infrastructure of rural Georgia,”