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Transco Seeks State Funds for Expansion

Transco Seeks State Funds for Expansion

Williams told the North Carolina Utilities Commission Wednesday it may seek contribution from North Carolina's $200 million of new natural gas bond funds to provide natural gas from its Transco pipeline to five counties in northeastern North Carolina.

Williams' Transco pipeline, which has provided transportation service to North Carolina for nearly 50 years, advised the commission it has submitted a proposal to the Albemarle Regional Energy Authority (AREA) for a joint venture in developing gas transmission and distribution facilities in Camden, Currituck, Chowan, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission recently directed parties interested in seeking state bond funds to file non-binding notices of interest with the commission. Williams will make a formal presentation of its proposal to AREA leaders Monday.

Gisele Rankin, an attorney with the public staff of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, said Williams-Transco is one of seven companies giving notice to the commission regarding the bond money. The others are North Carolina Natural Gas Corp., Carolina Power & Light Co., Frontier Energy, AREA itself, the City of Elizabeth City (which is not eligible to receive any of the money), and Public Service Co. of North Carolina Inc. (which only filed to reserve its right to express interest later).

The money was approved by North Carolina voters in November in a referendum that included monies for water and sewer improvements. "We've got a long history of trying to expand the gas infrastructure in the state," Rankin said. "A third of our counties were un-served in 1990."

The statute that creates the funding says money is to go to areas that are "un-sourced" for natural gas. Companies are eligible to receive amounts only to the extent they offset projects' negative net present values as determined by commission studies. Rankin said hearings to determine recipients could take place in early fall.

The Transco notice to the commission says "due to the preliminary nature of Transco's discussions with AREA, the exact nature and extent of Transco's work with AREA is still undetermined." However, the notice also says Williams is "committed to providing every feasible assistance to AREA or other entities seeking to provide natural gas to northeastern North Carolina."

".[T]his venture would create an opportunity for industrial and electric generation facilities to locate in these counties," said Cuba Wadlington Jr., general manager of Houston-based Williams-Transco. "In addition to providing an economical source of energy for the residents of northeast North Carolina, our proposal could enhance the overall economic development in this area."

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