FOUR OAKS – Johnston County Commissioners have agreed to partially fund the extension of a natural gas line to Four Oaks Middle School. It’s one step closer at having natural gas available at the Four Oaks Business Park, about a mile away.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to pay for $1.3 million of the $2.78 million cost Piedmont Natural Gas will incur to extend the pipeline from US 301 South of Smithfield near Carolina Packers to Four Oaks Middle on Boyette Road. Commissioner Fred Smith made the motion to fund the project. Commissioner Tony Braswell seconded the motion.
Piedmont will upsize the line larger than what is typically needed for use at a school. By getting the school system involved, Four Oaks and Johnston County leaders will soon have natural gas near the Business Park.
Natural gas companies are one of the most regulated utilities in the United States. They are not allowed to run speculative lines like water and sewer. They must have an end user. Four Oaks Middle will become the end user and the county participated to keep the costs down for Piedmont.
Johnston County Economic Development Director Chris Johnson said Four Oaks Business Park has utilities, water, and sewer but no natural gas.
“In the highly competitive world of economic development, having all utilities on-site is the new normal. When you compare Industrial Parks and Sites around the Triangle region, the Four Oaks Business Park has always been hamstrung with not having natural gas in the park or within a comfortable deliverable timeline,” Mr. Johnson said. “We are very much appreciative of our economic development allies at Piedmont Natural Gas for partnering with Johnston County and working to extend their current infrastructure to the Four Oaks Middle School. With this extension, the Four Oaks Business Park will have a better opportunity to grow the higher paying advanced manufacturing jobs for our residents in Johnston County.”
The natural gas line extension will also increase the opportunity for commercial development along the Interstate 95 corridor in Four Oaks including land near Ashley HomeStore on Brewer Road adjacent to I-95.
A timeline for the gas line extension to Four Oaks Middle School was not announced. It will take additional permitting for Piedmont due to the line having to cross Holt’s Lake and CSX Railroad on Highway 301 as part of the project.