PSNC Energy constructing new gas line in Polk County

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, March 3, 2016

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A new natural gas pipeline is being installed in Mill Spring by PSNC Energy alongside the 12-inch pipeline already in existence near Polk County Middle School. The completed expansion project will triple the current distribution capacity to meet the gas needs of Western North Carolina for the next three decades. 

According to Don Hallingse, manager of external relations with PSNC Energy, the pipeline will stretch 25.3 miles from Mill Spring on Silver Creek Road up to Arden and connect with Duke Energy’s converted coal ash plant on Long Shoals Road in south Asheville.

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The pipeline expansion project began in late January and is expected to reach completion in June, according to Hallingse. Additionally, the project will “trench through” the Green River nearly a mile upstream from the Green River Bridge on Silver Creek Road in Mill Spring.

Hallingse confirmed the date of when the pipeline will cross the Green River and said he expected to see the line cross at the end of March and alongside the driving range at Bright’s Creek Golf resort.

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PSNC Energy has a team of 350 workers working on the new line, which will be 20 inches wide and require easements that are 50 to 75 feet wide. Latex Construction out of Atlanta will bury the line 10 feet below ground.

In order to avoid disrupting the environment and the citizens around the area, PSNC Energy spokeswoman Persida Montanez explained the plan is for the new pipeline to be installed within current PSNC Energy rights-of-way.

However, temporary easements may be used to complete the project. Easements are rights to cross or use someone’s property for a specified purpose, according to Hallingse.

Currently, there is an eight-inch pipeline underground, which has been in use since 1954. In 1989, a 12-inch pipeline was placed next to it. This expansion project will remove the eight-inch pipeline and replace it with a 20-inch pipeline, which will be encased in four inches of concrete.

PSNC Energy has acquired all permits for the project through the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Resource Commission.

This project affects Polk, Henderson and Buncombe counties. Henderson County will see 12 miles of pipeline replaced, according to Montanez, and all phases of the project will be completed in 2018.

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The estimated cost of the replacement project is between $70 and $75 million, according to Montanez, and the project is expected to be completed and in use by June. Replacing the line allows PSNC Energy to meet growing residential, commercial and industrial demand in the area as well as supporting economic development.