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January 28--  After years of pushing by area economic developers, the Georgia Public Service Commission is committing funds and directing Atlanta Gas Light to increase natural gas capacity in rural Georgia.

State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia says $4.66 million will be available within a month to start work on an estimated $14 million project, "This is a project our area has fought for for half a decade now.  It's a combined project for Toombs, Montgomery, Wheeler, Treutlen and Emanuel counties and is significant because our gas capacity was strangled and we couldn't add anything else to the line.  All the industrial developers we've had come look at any of those counties in the past several years have needed more natural gas capacity.  We've been able in Toombs County to uniquely solve some of that with propane, but also having that backup option of natural gas allows for competition between natural gas and propane and keeps the natural gas company honest by having propane backup.  It's a necessary step to bring jobs to rural Georgia."

The Executive Director of the Toombs County Development Authority, Michelle Johnson, is elated with the news, "We are so overwhelmed and grateful that the Public Service Commission saw fit to award some money for our project.  We have applied for these funds for the past three years.  We understand it's a huge project but it's immensely important to our county and our region and we are elated at the news."

Meanwhile another piece of the puzzle to make the Toombs Corporate Center north of Lyons more competitive is to increase wastewater treatment capacity, a project that the City of Lyons is addressing and expects to resolve early this year.