February 27, 2013

Three Maine towns inch closer to natural-gas pipeline

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Town councilors in Yarmouth, Falmouth and Cumberland have agreed to begin negotiations with Summit Natural Gas to install a network of piping that would bring natural gas to homes and businesses.

The Falmouth Town Council on Monday was the last of the three elected bodies to sign off on a non-binding resolution to pursue Summit's proposal, said Nathan Poore, Falmouth Town Manager. The only other company to submit a plan was Maine Natural Gas.

"The intention is to start working exclusively with Summit," Poore said.

The resolution authorizes town managers in the three communities to bring detailed questions about Summit's plan to company officials. A joint meeting of the three towns in slated for March 12 in Yarmouth, Poore said.

The infrastructure project is expected to cost Summit $72 million over a decade, and would bring gas service to roughly 27,000 customers in the three-town area where oil and propane now dominate as fuel sources.

Summit would tap the Northeast and Maritimes Pipeline that runs through West Cumberland and pipe the gas along Tuttle and Blanchard roads. Gas service could start for homeowners and businesses near the main lines as soon as late 2014, according to the proposal.

For residents, natural gas has the potential to reduce heating costs by 30 to 50 percent, according to Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane, a former engineer who has led the towns on the project.

Unlike Maine Natural Gas, Summit did not request deferential tax treatment, and will reach more customers in fewer years after construction begins. Summit's plan also called for deeper saturation into residential neighborhoods at the project's five-year mark.

The company has said it would pay to hook up most households to the network of underground pipes, and provide rebates to blunt the cost of converting existing home heating systems to gas.

 

Staff Writer Matt Byrne can be contacted at: 791-6303 or at

mbyrne@mainetoday.com

 

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