Local natural gas supplies may attract tenants to the new Bluestone Industrial Park near Springville, VA

Natural gas proposal

July 29, 2012

Project could benefit Tazewell CountyThe Bluefield Daily Telegraph  Sun Jul 29, 2012, 05:00 AM EDT

— — It was almost two decades ago when Tazewell County officials broke ground on a long-planned but welcomed initiative to extend public drinking water along the U.S. Route 460 corridor from Lowe’s of Bluefield, Va., to Lowe’s of Claypool Hill.

Today, a coalition of business leaders, elected officials and concerned citizens are daring to dream again by proposing a “Lowe’s to Lowe’s” natural gas pipeline for Tazewell County. A kick-off meeting for the proposed natural gas project was held last week in the town of Tazewell.

Don Dunford, who chaired the Tazewell County Public Service Authority more than two decades ago when the Lowe’s to Lowe’s water project was launched, is now sprearheading the natural gas pipeline proposal. Dunford, who is once again serving as a member of the PSA board of directors, correctly notes that there is great potential for a natural gas project in the county.

“Tazewell County is a producer of natural gas,” Dunford said last week. “We have about 600 natural gas wells in Tazewell County. That gas is produced and goes out of state. I felt we ought to keep it here at home and use it in Tazewell County to make it available to our homes, businesses and schools in the county. It is the responsibility of the PSA to provide public services like water and sewer to people. We provide water and sewer from Lowe’s to Lowe’s in Tazewell County, so why not provide natural gas from Lowe’s to Lowe’s in Tazewell County.”

Many of the industries and businesses that local officials are attempting to recruit to Tazewell County require natural gas to operate, according to Dunford. He believes both businesses and area families can benefit from the proposed development because natural gas can be used for heating and cooling. Natural gas can also help reduce operating costs for schools and county-operated vehicles.

“I would like to see this made available to every business and home in Tazewell County,” Dunford said. “There is natural gas in businesses in Bluefield, Va., and homes there as well. There is also small usage in other places throughout the county. Appalachian Natural Gas has the rights to distribute natural gas to Bluefield, Va. The new Bluestone Industrial Park near Springville will have natural gas within a year there. That will be advantageous for industries looking to come in who need natural gas for the manufacturing process.”

The natural gas pipeline project sounds like a worthy and logical idea for county officials to pursue. It’s another example of forward thinking, and bold leadership, by our Virginia-side elected leaders. While not every big idea conceived by Tazewell County officials is realized, it is still important to come up with and actively pursue such bold initiatives.

We believe the natural gas pipeline is a project that can and should come to fruition.

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