PEMBROKE — Robeson County is expected to see a boom in economic growth as a result of a proposed 550-mile natural gas pipeline that will originate in Harrison County, W.Va., pass through Virginia, and end here.
Gov. Pat McCrory told a crowd of about 150 business leaders, public officials and others gathered at COMtech industrial park on Tuesday that the $4.5 billion pipeline will be built and owned by Dominion Resources, headquartered n Richmond, Va., Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and AGL Resources. The pipeline is expected to begin construction in 2016 and be delivering natural gas to customers in late 2018.
McCrory said that 180 miles of the proposed pipeline will pass through Eastern North Carolina, bringing natural gas to parts of state where the absence of natural gas has hindered industrial recruitment and job creation. About 22 miles of the pipeline will be in Robeson County.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is one of the largest projects of its type in the nation and represents a significant investment in our state,” McCrory said. “This economic project will drive economic growth and create much needed jobs for Eastern North Carolina. In addition, this new interstate natural gas pipeline will provide our entire state with new access to abundant, clean, reliable and competitively priced supplies of natural gas.”
According to the governor, the project is expected to create about 738 jobs each year in North Carolina during the construction phase, resulting in an economic effect of $680 million. The pipeline is also expected to create 52 permanent jobs.
McCrory said that access to natural gas and other sources of energy are vital in recruiting industries to the state, as well as creating and maintaining jobs. With access to natural gas from the proposed pipeline, the state and local regions have an additional tool to use in their economic development recruitment efforts. according to the governor.
“We are going to use this as an economic tool to bring more jobs to North Carolina,” McCrory said.
‘The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a transformational project for our region. It will create thousands of construction jobs during development and significant new revenue for the state and local governments throughout North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia,” the chief executives of the four companies involved in the project said in a joint statement. “The expanded source of gas will also help fuel economic development across the region as businesses and homes rely more on natural gas.
“Natural gas is increasingly important for electricity generation , contributing significantly to lower greenhouse gas and other emissions,” according to the company officials. “The project will also provide more reliable access to new sources of natural gas, keeping consumers’energy costs down — even during the the coldest and hottest weather.”
For Robeson County, where officials say the lack of natural gas has cost the county industry, the new pipeline is expected to open new doors for economic development.
“This line gives Robeson County the opportunity to get major projects where large consumption of natural gas is an issue,” said Greg Cummings, the county’s economic developer and industrial recruiter. ” … And natural gas is one of the major components industries ask about when considering locating in Robeson County.”
“This is great for our county,” said Noah Woods, chairman of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners. “Our county is in need of jobs and employment for our people.”
Ryan Nance, executive director of COMtech, expects that access to natural gas will help in development of the park.
“This will be a major boost for all of Eastern North Carolina,” Nance said. “COMtech should benefit since it is located in Eastern North Carolina.”
As proposed, the pipeline is designed to transport 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The main pipeline will have a 42-inch diameter in West Virginia and Virginia, cutting back to 36 inches in diameter in North Carolina.
According to the proposal, the pipeline will enter North Carolina in Northampton County and travel southwest through parts of Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson and Cumberland counties before ending at Piedmont Natural Gas transmission facilities in Robeson County.