Pipeline work may mean more customers in Durham, Orange

Mar. 19, 2014 @ 05:48 PM

Natural gas provider PSNC Energy is investing $13 million in new natural gas pipeline in Durham and Orange counties – a move that could position the company to add new customers.

The pipe is being installed along about 34 miles of existing roadway, said Angela Townsend, a company spokeswoman, in an email. Construction started last July, and is expected to wrap up by June.

The new line is not connected directly to customers’ homes, and is instead a distribution system expansion.

Townsend said that by expanding distribution capacity, the company can better serve existing customers. She also said the new pipeline will allow the company to prepare for future growth.

“We are working in areas where there has not been previously natural gas service,” Townsend said. “Certainly, we’re all about growing our business and adding customers.”

Once the project is finished, the company will check to see where it received calls from homeowners and business owners interested in receiving natural gas to see if there is enough interest to make further investments to add customers, she said.

“Once we finish this construction work on the distribution pipe, we send our sales reps back out to areas where we had interest expressed to us -- by people calling in -- to see if there is enough interest to put in additional infrastructure to serve an area,” she said. “A lot of where we’re putting this pipe is where homes are still far apart.”

Townsend said a majority of the company’s 512,000 customers in 38 counties of North Carolina are in the Triangle, which also is the company’s fastest-growing market. In Durham County, the company has about 60,000 customers.

Across North Carolina, according to a 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey, about 25 percent of residents used natural gas to heat their homes, the second-largest share compared to electricity, at more than 60 percent.

In Durham County, about 40 percent used natural gas, while about 56 percent used electricity.

PSNC Energy’s new pipeline is going in western Durham County on parts of Kerley Road, N.C. 751, Erwin Road, Lemur Lane, Cameron Boulevard and Duke University Road, as well as along some roads in eastern Orange County.

Townsend said the company did not have to get N.C. Utilities Commission approval for the project, but did get permits from the N.C. Department of Transportation and N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. She said the pipe is being installed along existing Department of Transportation right-of-way.

The company encourages anyone interested in using natural gas to call the Durham sales office at 919-598-7450.