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Florida's Fastest-Growing Natural Gas Supplier is Coming to Green Cove Springs

Florida's Fastest-Growing Natural Gas Supplier is Coming to Green Cove Springs

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – After more than a year of negotiations and discussions, one of Florida’s fastest-growing natural gas suppliers is ready to lay pipe here.

In late January, the Green Cove Springs City Council passed an ordinance, which is required by city charter, to grant a franchise to TECO Peoples Gas. The ordinance, in turn, requires TECO to pay the city six percent of its gross company revenues each month in return for doing business in the city.

The city has underground utility easements that Mayor Van Royal said are 10 feet wide where gas lines can be installed.

“The change to the language in the franchise agreement gives TECO Natural Gas access to our easements and we made sure it isn’t exclusive, so others can use it,” Royal said.

Natural gas isn’t a utility that has been available to Green Cove Springs before and the transmission lines will be brought to the region by SeaCoast Gas Transmission for TECO to extend into the city. SeaCoast will install nearly 10 miles of pipe to bring gas to the area, andTECO will install 13 miles of pipe to serve customers.

Once the city council approves the franchise, Green Cove Springs will have natural gas service for larger customers by the end of the year, according to Peoples Gas.

“This is a move to help spur economic development in Green Cove Springs,” said Cheri Jacobs TECO media spokesperson, who is based at the company’s Tampa headquarters. “Some larger commercial customers will have service by the end of this year and smaller ones will have it next year. In the coming years, we hope to get lines to residential customers, as well.”

She said TECO will install 13 miles of gas lines, but she wouldn’t disclose the dollar amount the company will invest to expand here. Jacobs said having natural gas available could help everyone residents save money on utility bills if certain circumstances don’t change.

“We’re proud to be the company that brings natural gas to Green Cove Springs for the first time. It’s a new market for us and getting it from the ground has become more efficient. That has made supply grow, which caused prices to drop, so natural gas is very inexpensive right now,” Jacobs said.

As the city looks to market itself as a manufacturing destination to create jobs, making natural gas available will matter to those who look at available property.

“Green Cove Springs has the largest concentration of manufacturing land in the county,” said Chris Eversole, the city’s communications coordinator. “Some manufacturers use heat and that makes lower-cost heat attractive to them.”

Royal said other companies that need a lot of energy will be in his sights.  “We can now target power-intensive companies – anyone that heats material; any manufacturer that liquefies or manufactures. This won’t matter as much to distributers, but it will to manufacturers, whether they’re in the city limit or not because a lot of the gas lines will serve the surrounding area,” Royal said.

One of those such companies is Vac-Con, which employs 300 Clay County residents. Bill Barnes, Vac-Con’s continuous improvement manager, said the company is eager to use natural gas as a power source because saving money increases profitability and ensures the company’s continued presence in Green Cove Springs.

“We have a very good cooperative partnership with Mayor Royal and County Manager Stephanie Kopelousos. They have bent over backwards to work with us throughout our expansion and incorporating natural gas merely integrates well with what we’re already doing,” he said.

Vac-Con is in the middle of a $10 million expansion project of its facility, producing vacuum trucks to efficiently dig holes underground without actually digging from the topsoil. From Green Cove Springs, trucks are sold around the country and can be powered by natural gas, if a customer orders them equipped that way.

“We have pushed to get natural gas here for the last two years,” Barnes said. “We contacted TECO and elected officials and it took a good partnership between local business and local government to get it done.”

Royal and other city leaders are also working on smaller projects going that won’t generate a high number of jobs or high-paying ones, but will matter to many residents. A Domino’s Pizza is now in town and Eversole said there is ongoing work to attract Zaxby’s. He also noted the presence of a community college with First Coast Technical College offering classes in town.

“All these things add up – from Domino’s and McDonald’s to antique shops and the business league – it’s about synergy and creating a community that’s on the upswing,” he said.

Smaller commercial customers could have service in 2017. Residential customers would have service in coming years.

The pipeline will start at the Clay County Agricultural Fairgrounds, travel to the industrial area south of the city and extend along U.S. 17 to north of the city. An extension will run to the Reynolds Industrial Park.

Full Article Available Here.

 

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The Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation provides concierge service for companies who want to re-invest in expansion in the county or relocate their companies to the region.

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