When it comes to paying for college, tuition rates seem to keep going up — but, not at Thomas College. One of the reasons is access to natural gas. In early March, Thomas College converted to natural gas with service provided by Summit Natural Gas of Maine. Since the company turned on gas in Waterville it has already helped Thomas College save on their energy costs; something that is part of the college’s Strategic Energy Plan. The plan for Thomas College seeks to provide diverse energy sources that will lower long-term energy expenses and keep tuition costs down. 

“Diversifying energy sources is one way the college can reduce costs – when the price of one source goes up, an alternative resource can be tapped. Adding yet another alternative source to the campus was the major reason the college decided to sign a contract with Summit Natural Gas,” said Chris Rhoda, vice president of information services and CIO at Thomas College.

A total of five buildings at Thomas College have been converted to use natural gas. 

“In the first full year of conversion, we expect to save approximately $90,000,” said Beth Gibbs, senior vice president of financial affairs and CFO. “The savings will help the college remain a competitive choice for students pursuing higher education.”

Providing natural gas to the city of Waterville is just part of Summit Natural Gas of Maine’s plans to serve thousands of residential and commercial customers across the Kennebec Valley region in 2014 and in the years ahead.

“Now that natural gas is available in Waterville, Thomas College will be able to keep tuition costs down and attract more students to Maine. The type of savings we’re seeing at Thomas and the impact it is having on the school’s attractiveness to students is an exciting example of the many ways that our project is going to have a positive economic impact across the entire region,” said Mike Minkos, president of Summit Natural Gas of Maine.

In addition to Thomas College, Inland Hospital, Huhtamaki, Sappi Fine Paper North America in Skowhegan and UPM Madison in Madison are already using natural gas provided by Summit. In total, more than 500 commercial customers have already signed contracts with Summit.

In less than a year, more than 700 construction workers have helped build out year 1 of Summit’s Kennebec Valley project from Pittston to Madison, including 68 miles of steel main pipeline and 1,500 miles of distribution pipeline that will eventually reach businesses and residents in 17 towns and cities in the region. 

Looking to Save Money with Natural Gas?

With year 1 complete, residential customers in Augusta, Fairfield, Gardiner, Hallowell, and Waterville are now connected to the Summit pipeline and are using natural gas. In total, more than 1,800 residential customers have already signed up with Summit for natural gas service and to benefit from the efficiency rebates available. Homeowners can save up to 50 percent on their heating costs with natural gas service from Summit.

Year 2 of the Kennebec Valley project will begin this month and focus on installing distribution lines throughout several communities and the service lines that will connect homes and businesses with natural gas. In 2014, Summit Natural Gas of Maine will be installing more miles of additional natural gas pipelines to residential areas than any other gas company in Maine.

Businesses and residents should contact the Summit Natural Gas of Maine office in Augusta to request natural gas service. To learn more about service areas and the construction project, call (855) 353-4433 or visit www.summitbigsave.com. 

Caption 1: Students at Thomas College are benefiting from lower tuition rates because of natural gas service provided by Summit Natural Gas of Maine.

Caption 2: Mike Minkos, president at Summit Natural Gas of Maine, spoke at Thomas College in December about how natural gas will help Thomas College save on their energy costs.