WATERVILLE — City councilors Tuesday night voted 6–0 to spend up to $10,000 to help fund a natural gas study.

The study, recommended by the Sustain Mid-Maine Energy Committee, is being done by A.E. Hodsdon engineers, of Waterville.

“It’s going to basically evaluate the best delivery method for getting gas to the community,” committee member Gregory Hale said. “Is it private or is it public (by municipality?)”

The study also would explain the steps a municipality must take in the process.

“The other key item is safety — understanding how these things get put in the ground,” Hale said.

The Waterville Development Corp. contributed $40,000 up front to fund the study, although officials say the study might not cost that much. Winslow then contributed $5,000 toward the study; Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, $2,000; MaineGeneral Health, $6,000; and Inland Hospital, $4,000, for a total of $27,000, with Waterville’s contribution.

The understanding is that those contributions would be used for the study and Waterville Development Corp. would be reimbursed for the $27,000. The development corporation also agreed to pitch in extra money to fund the study if needed.

Hale said there’s no question that having natural gas in the area would save everyone money in energy costs.

“It’s really going to be a game-changer for the area,” he said.

Legislation is pending that would authorize Waterville, Winslow and nearby communities to have exclusive rights to determine which company would deliver the gas and allow the communities influence over how it would work.

“If the legislation passes, we’d have to form a district board; and after that, the board and communities will have to decide what (gas) company to go with,” Hale said.

He said one of the goals of the Sustain Mid-Maine Energy Committee is to help businesses be more profitable and to help lower energy costs for residents. Having natural gas would be an incentive for businesses to locate here and create new jobs, he said.

In essence, the committee is trying to determine how to get the best value for people in Waterville and Winslow, according to Hale.

“The key thing is, how do we deliver great value to the community?” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]

 

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