Wednesday, December 4, 2013
FALMOUTH – The Town Council decided unanimously Monday to join Cumberland and Yarmouth officials in an effort to bring cost-saving natural gas to businesses and homes in the three coastal towns.
Town officials are considering a proposal to tap the regional Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline that runs through West Cumberland. A local pipeline would be installed along Blanchard and Tuttle roads in Cumberland, and branch off along Route 1 south into Falmouth and north into Yarmouth.
The Falmouth council voted 6-0 to spend $15,000 to investigate the legal, regulatory, public safety, economic development, environmental and public finance implications of bringing gas to the towns.
"The council is definitely interested and there's definitely interest among the businesses on Route 1," said Faith Varney, the council's chairwoman. "The question is whether it's economically viable to do it."
The Cumberland and Yarmouth town councils have appropriated $15,000 each to investigate natural-gas options, for a total commitment of $45,000.
Some town officials hope to entice a gas-delivery company to take on the $8 million to $10 million project, said Falmouth Town Manager Nathan Poore. Others are interested in forming a quasi-municipal gas company to build the pipeline and deliver the fuel.
Town officials have met already with representatives of Summit Utilities, a Colorado-based company that's working to bring natural gas to Kennebec County, said Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane. Meetings with Unitil and Maine Natural Gas representatives are scheduled for next week.
Having natural gas could reduce energy bills by 35 percent to 50 percent for businesses and residents who now use fuels such as heating oil and propane, Shane said.
Town officials plan to pool resources and potential demand for natural gas to make the project viable and attractive to gas-delivery companies.
Two independent consultants have confirmed that Cumberland, Falmouth and Yarmouth have the population density and potential demand to support a commercial gas venture, Shane said.
Other towns have shown interest in joining the venture, Shane said, including nearby Windham and Gray.
It would cost $1 million to $1.5 million to build a natural-gas substation in West Cumberland, near the Cumberland Fairgrounds, and $300,000 per mile to install a pipeline along Blanchard Road, Tuttle Road and Route 1, Shane said.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: