Williams told the North Carolina Utilities Commission Wednesdayit may seek contribution from North Carolina’s $200 million of newnatural gas bond funds to provide natural gas from its Transcopipeline to five counties in northeastern North Carolina.

Williams’ Transco pipeline, which has provided transportationservice to North Carolina for nearly 50 years, advised thecommission it has submitted a proposal to the Albemarle RegionalEnergy Authority (AREA) for a joint venture in developing gastransmission and distribution facilities in Camden, Currituck,Chowan, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission recently directedparties interested in seeking state bond funds to file non-bindingnotices of interest with the commission. Williams will make aformal presentation of its proposal to AREA leaders Monday.

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

The money was approved by North Carolina voters in November in areferendum that included monies for water and sewer improvements.”We’ve got a long history of trying to expand the gasinfrastructure in the state,” Rankin said. “A third of our countieswere un-served in 1990.”

The statute that creates the funding says money is to go toareas that are “un-sourced” for natural gas. Companies are eligibleto 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 inearly fall.

The Transco notice to the commission says “due to thepreliminary nature of Transco’s discussions with AREA, the exactnature and extent of Transco’s work with AREA is stillundetermined.” However, the notice also says Williams is “committedto providing every feasible assistance to AREA or other entitiesseeking to provide natural gas to northeastern North Carolina.”

“.[T]his venture would create an opportunity for industrial andelectric generation facilities to locate in these counties,” saidCuba Wadlington Jr., general manager of Houston-basedWilliams-Transco. “In addition to providing an economical source ofenergy for the residents of northeast North Carolina, our proposalcould enhance the overall economic development in this area.”

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