A proposal to extend a natural gas pipeline for 20 miles between Ellijay and Blue Ridge got the green light Tuesday from the Georgia Public Service Commission (GPCS). According to the proposal, the pipeline will be constructed just to the side of Georgia State Highway 515 . However, this is not the final route of the pipeline. Also, now that the project has the GPCS’ approval, state funding can be used to help pay $23.7 million it will take to build the extension. The area, known to many as the Blue Ridge Corridor, is part of Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) company’s certificated service territory, but is not currently served by natural gas. An AGL spokeswoman says residents and business operators along the Blue Ridge Corridor can expect to see reduced rates for natural gas in the area, because the pipeline will provide more customers with easier access to AGL products. There’s also a chance the extended pipeline could force the price of propane down, due to a more competitive marketplace.The ‘Blue Ridge Corridor’ project, as its called, has been earmarked by AGL as a priority, a spokeswoman confirmed. It’s expected to boost local economies, especially in the cities of Ellijay and Blue Ridge. For example, the AGL spokeswoman said the new 20 mile line will help poultry farmers lower energy costs, because it provides an alternative to propane and will provide easier access to natural gas.
The project is divided into two sections: section one extends a high pressure steel main (pipe) along Georgia State Highway 515 from the Ellijay city Limits to the city limits of Blue Ridge. Section two begins, again, in Ellijay and continues north along Boardtown Road for approximately 40,000 feet. This part of the corridor targets the conversion from propane to natural gas of poultry growers along the route. This route has yet to be finalized.
In a response to Tuesday’s approval, AGL asserted the project “will boost economic development efforts in Fannin and Gilmer Counties by offering alternatives to industry, commercial and residential developers other than propane service, which is significantly higher (in cost).”
Although AGL received approval for the project today, construction of the pipeline from Ellijay to Blue Ridge is expected to start sometime next year.