The Pender County Board of Commissioners received several community inquiries regarding the large orange pipe that is being installed along US Hwy 17, Sloop Point Loop Road, and Country Club Drive.
We reached out to Piedmont Natural Gas for an update on the project. They responded quickly to answer community questions.
Where is the gas line being installed? Is it called the Hampstead Gas Line Project?
The Hampstead project consists of much more than the name implies. It is to connect Wilmington with Jacksonville. The project started near the New Hanover County & Pender County line along Highway 17 all the way to Jacksonville where it will connect near the air station. The route mostly follows Highway 17 except for a slight detour where the line jumps off US Hwy 17 and follows Country Club Drive to Sloop Point Loop Rd where it loops back to US Hwy 17.
What is the purpose of installing natural gas?
The primary purpose of installing this line is to be available for the anticipated growth along Highway 17, especially in the Hampstead and Surf City area. Piedmont Gas hopes to serve commercial markets such as restaurants, grocery, hospitals, retail shopping centers, schools and more.
Will residential customers be served by Piedmont Gas?
We hope to serve many new planned residential subdivisions but will also consider some existing communities to serve. We currently have agreements to serve several Pender County schools in the Hampstead and Surf City area. Piedmont Natural Gas is usually half the cost of propane, so it saves the taxpayers a lot of money.
After the initial work along US Hwy 17 is complete, what is next?
As soon as Piedmont Gas finishes installation along US Hwy 17 and Country Club Drive, the company plans to extend a line to reach Surf City. The extension can serve much of the commercial and residential growth.
And after the infrastructure is completed along US Hwy 17 and to Surf City, Piedmont Natural Gas will target expanding the system to reach more commercial projects and residential communities, mostly new developments.
Do you have a completion date?
Piedmont Natural Gas expects to be completed with the US Hwy 17/Hampstead project within a couple of months. Work on the Surf City connector will follow, about 6 months.
Will current homeowners have the opportunity to tap into the line for natural gas?
Most Piedmont Gas residential and commercial customers with gas lines directly in front along the street can receive a service line and meter to their building at no cost to them if they connect a primary gas appliance/s. For example, most residential homes can receive free installation (up to certain footage) for agreeing to connect either a water heater, or primary central heating, or a gas dryer, or a combination of gas cooking accompanied with one additional gas appliance of choice.
Most existing residential communities will not be considered for natural gas conversion; however, many will be considered, and some will qualify to have gas lines installed. When considering existing residential communities, surveys can be done to determine the level of interest among the homeowners. When there seems to be adequate interest for a project to be feasible, Piedmont may require a certain number of commitments from homeowners before approving a project. Usually, there is not a cost to homeowners when an existing community is served; rather the decision to approve is based on anticipated usage and usually takes a large percentage of agreements. When serving newly developed residential communities, the developer and/or builders will often agree to use a minimum of gas heat and gas water heater in every home. Some residential subdivisions may only require a minimum of gas water heaters, all depends on the cost of the project and the number of homes.
Will businesses have an opportunity to tap into the line too?
Piedmont Natural Gas commercial customers usually qualify at no cost for a service line and meter by connecting either a water heater or heat or cooking equipment.
Both residential and commercial projects that are in the vicinity of a natural gas line but don’t have direct access must use enough gas to justify extending a line or pay a Cost in Aid of Construction to make up the difference.