N.C. regulators say a Union County hog-waste plant proposed by GESS International can participate in a pilot project to supply alternative gas to Duke Energy Corp. through a pipeline operated by Piedmont Natural Gas.
The N.C. Utilities Commission approved the $30 million Monroe project and four other alternative-gas production sites proposed by GESS for the pilot. GESS would not have been allowed to inject gas into the Piedmont pipeline system without permission to participate in the pilot program, which is designed to determine if alternative gases might cause damage to pipelines or to customer equipment if they are allowed transportation on Piedmont’s system.
GESS, based in Raleigh, had once hoped to start construction on the Monroe plant sometime this month. But James Elkins, GESS’ director of projects and regulatory oversight, says it is likely to be June or so before construction gets underway.
“We used the extra time wisely by finding faster and better ways to construct the facilities,” he says. “This has allowed us to cut our construction time down to … (about) a year to be in full production.”
The company also intends to start construction soon on additional projects in Bladen, Columbus, Robeson and Wilson counties. Those are the other projects included in the commission order this week. The company is eyeing at least two other sites in the state. And Elkins says the company has projects planned in Missouri and Idaho that could also start construction this summer.
Trucking the gas
The approval given by the commission authorizes the company to inject gas from the five plants at three approved sites on Piedmont’s pipeline network. The plants will not be connected directly to the pipelines, which is how gases such as biogas are often put into a pipeline network. Instead, GESS proposed, and the commission approved, three injection sites on the pipeline to take the biogas from GESS.