By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
Franklin County poultry farmers now have a better idea of what options are open to them for running natural gas lines to their chicken houses after attending a special meeting with natural gas providers Thursday evening.
Dozens of farmers came out to hear from Georgia Mountains Regional Commission representative Danny Lewis about what’s involved in getting natural gas into Franklin County.
While the meeting was also open to the general customers interested in tapping into gas service for their homes, most of those who attended had poultry houses.
Lewis told the group they would not get any final decisions at the meeting.
Franklin County Manager John Phillips asked if any natural gas providers attending the meeting had looked into the feasibility of providing gas service to Franklin County.
Toccoa City Manager Billy Morse spoke on behalf of Toccoa Natural Gas.
Morse said they are already working on a plan for to run service into Franklin County.
“Yes we do, we have a list of folks that have already contacted us (from Franklin County),” Morse said. “We were hoping this meeting would be a catalyst for more folks contacting us. What we would like to do is take the information from tonight to come up with a master plan and come up with a way to serve folks in FranklinCounty.”
The City of Royston also provides natural gas service.
Royston City Manager Greg Scott said the city currently runs gas service to just over 200 poultry houses.
However, Scott said they are more than willing to form a partnership with the county to provide natural gas service throughout the county.
“A partnership could take on several forms,” Scott said. “One would be if a bond were floated to finance the capital investment of the pipe in the ground and could be paid back with the profits from that pipe.”
Also attending Thursday’s meeting was Commerce City Manager Pete Pyrzenski.
Pyrzenski said his town is already ready to provide natural gas service to the southern part of Franklin County.
“We also ready to be a partner, I think that’s a great word,” he said. “We would be a valuable asset coming from the west. We are less than six miles from our nearest stub and we’ve already estimated lines, cost, etc.”
Franklin County commission chair Thomas Bridges, who is also a poultry farmer, asked for the meeting Thursday night, which was also attended by county commissioners.
Bridges said they have been working on a natural gas feasibility study for months and the board will now take the information gathered to use in that study.