Jobs are coming, and in large numbers.
Piedmont Natural Gas recently announced plans to build a $250 million facility near Maxton where it will purify and store natural gas, a project that was first talked about a decade or so ago, but never happened when the company found another location that served the purpose and was more economical.
OK, the work site won’t be located in Scotland County. But it will be situated just a stone’s throw across the boundary to the east in Robeson County — a simple 10-mile or so drive away.
Piedmont officials say the construction of the facility, which will sit on 50 acres of 685 acres the company owns between Maxton and Red Springs, will provide as many as 400 temporary jobs. The plan is to begin construction in the summer of 2019 and finish in 2021. After the facility is operating, it will provide 10 to 12 permanent jobs.
Although the announcement by Piedmont Natural Gas is certainly a boon for Robeson County, we see the bigger picture, which is the fact that some, if not many, of those temporary jobs being created for the long construction phase could — and most likely will — be given to Scotland County residents. If, of course, there are those interested and apply.
And for those who may think this announcement is somehow tied to the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, we will offer this: There will be a tendency to conflate the two, but Piedmont officials say the facility is not a result of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In fact, an already existing pipeline, the Transco, owned and operated by a Oklahoma company, will feed the facility.
That’s right, there are existing pipelines all around us already.
Officials with Piedmont, which is a subsidiary of Duke Energy, say that the natural gas stored at the facility will supply 100,000 residential homes — some of which surely will be out toward Laurinburg — and is not intended for industrial usage. They say the natural gas is needed for peak periods of high demand, and its availability could keep a cap on prices during the winter, saving customers precious dollars.
How’s that for more good news?
Presumably, however, the supply will free up natural gas for industrial usage, and will be a tool, along with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, that will help with industrial demand. We are told as a single for instance that Campbell Soup sometimes has to cut back production in winter months because of energy concerns.
All in all, the announcement by Piedmont is a win-win-win for Robeson County (which will see close to $1 million in tax revenue), Scotland County and the natural gas company.
We hope local folks needing work will polish off their resumes and apply.