LUMBERTON — County Commissioner Jerry Stephens wants to be sure that Robeson County benefits as much as possible from the 550-mile pipeline that is to transport natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina.
Twenty-two miles of the pipeline will be in Robeson County, where the line will terminate.
During a presentation from representatives of Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas, three of the four energy companies involved in the joint pipeline project, Stephens questioned how workers on the project will be hired and how industries in Robeson County will be able to tap into the line that is designed to transport gas to wholesalers and not individual retail customers. He said that he wants to ensure that Robeson County, and not just the energy companies, benefit.
“We’ve got good land here. I don’t feel comfortable with companies making millions here and we don’t get anything out of it,” Stephens said. “I don’t see the point in using up our land so that somebody over in Charlotte can benefit … . If we’re not going to get the jobs here, somebody somewhere else is going to be making some money.”
Bob Kaylor, a Raleigh attorney representing Dominion and making the presentation to the commissioners, said that all of the specifics for hiring and how utilities receiving the gas from the pipeline will distribute gas to its customers have not yet been finalized. More information, he said, should be available when an open house concerning the project is held in Robeson County on Sept. 22.
Kaylor told the commissioners that the energy companies believe that the $4.5 billion to $5 billion pipeline will be a “powerful engine” that will drive North Carolina’s economy, especially in the eastern part of the state. He said construction must still be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2016 and be completed sometime in 2018, he said.
Kaylor said that the exact route of the pipeline is still being worked out, but it will be located on the east side of Interstate 95.
In other business, the commissioners on Tuesday:
— Approved a request for an incentives package for a business in Lumberton that wants to expand. Project Sweet is a $1.7 million investment in equipment and machinery. During Phase I of the expansion 10 jobs will be created at a wage of $12.50 per hour, according to Greg Cummings, the county’s economic developer.
The Lumberton City Council will hold a public hearing Monday on potentially offering the company an incentives package.
— Approved franchise agreements with rescue squads and EMS units that operate in Robeson County. Greg Bounds, the county’s EMS director, said the franchise agreements spell out how the local units operate in relation to the county’s EMS
“The state says that counties are responsible for all rescue squads and EMS units operating in the county,” Bounds said.
Franchise agreements approved Tuesday included the Rowland Rescue Squad; St. Pauls EMS; Red Springs Rescue Squad; Maxton Rescue Squad; Lumberton Rescue and EMS; Pembroke Rescue and EMS; South Robeson Rescue; and Parkton EMS.
— Approved DataMax to collect debts owed by those using services provided by the county’s EMS.
— Approved a conditional-use permit for the establishment of a solar farm in Orrum. The farm, proposed by FLS Energy LLC, will be on 39.80 acres of a 62-acre tract located at Wire Grass and Atkinson roads.