SIDNEY — Summit Natural Gas of Maine announced Friday that the company plans to break ground on a plan to expand its services and infrastructure to Sidney starting this spring after striking a deal with asphalt and aggregate materials producer Pike Industries.

A timeline for the project has yet to be determined, according to Summit spokesperson Lizzy Reinholt, and the start of construction will depend on weather and ground temperature.

Summit expects to invest over $4.5 million to lay the 46,000 feet of pipe needed to complete the project, according to a news release announcing the expansion.

“We continually hear from businesses that access to natural gas is one of their key considerations when choosing where to locate,” Summit’s lead commercial sales representative Skye Austin said in the release. “We look forward to partnering with the town of Sidney to help strengthen its local economy, while reducing emissions by providing businesses and residents a lower emission fuel alternative.”

Pike Industries, which operates a plant in Sidney and employs about 350 people in Maine, was the sole driver behind Summit’s decision to expand, the chairman of Sidney’s Board of Selectmen, John Whitcomb, said Friday.

“There was no per se demand from customers, but they’re willing to offer other customers access as well,” Whitcomb said.

A Pike Industries representative was unavailable for comment Friday. However, in the news release, Pike Industries employee Kevin Folkins said the asphalt company was “continuously looking to expand our energy options.”

“Part of our sustainability strategy is to seek opportunities to optimize our energy use and resources. We are investing in our Sidney plant to reduce the amount of energy required in our production process and are excited to add the ability to use a cleaner fuel,” Folkins said.

Garvan Donegan, a senior economic development specialist for the Central Maine Growth Council, said the partnership between Pike Industries and Summit has been in the works for a while, and he expects additional investments in natural gas from other Sidney businesses in the next 12 months.

He applauded the move as offering “diverse and robust energy solutions (as well as) creating economic conditions to enable business to grow, to be created or expand.”

Donegan also worked with Summit to connect with businesses along Trafton Road in Waterville, where an interchange on Interstate 95 was developed recently, and said there are several ongoing negotiations with property and business owners along that stretch to do business with Summit.

The development of Trafton Road is creating a corridor of economic enterprise, and this represents a spillover into Sidney, he said.

State legislators Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, and Rep. Mike Perkins, R-Oakland, characterized the expansion as an opportunity to boost economic growth.

“As a small business owner, I know firsthand how important it is to have affordable and reliable energy solutions,” Perkins said in the release. “This expansion will increase choices for business owners and families throughout the community and should encourage future growth and investment.”

Summit has had to deal with several setbacks in the five years since it began operating in Maine.

In 2016, Summit was fined $307,000 for a major gas leak that was described as potentially “catastrophic” at a shopping plaza in Augusta and for other safety violations that dated back to 2013 and 2014 construction, which included improper installations, having unqualified employees and failing to locate underground facilities.

In 2015, the Maine Public Utilities Commission required Summit to inspect and replace faulty equipment on transmission and residential distribution lines that contractors had installed incorrectly.

In 2013, an apparent leak blew off a manhole cover and cracked pavement on Arsenal Street in Augusta, and in 2015 gas leaked at a Hallowell school.

In regard to those past problems, Reinholt said Summit worked on improving the safety of the system.

“We’re regulated and have worked with our commission to put safety measures in place to guard against future problems,” she said.

In 2013, Summit started building a main transmission pipeline from Pittston to Madison, and since then, it has installed more than 200 miles of distribution pipeline in communities in the Kennebec Valley and southern Maine.

Sidney residents and business owners will be able to learn more about the project at an educational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Sidney Town Office.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg