FARMINGDALE — Summit Natural Gas is poised build a pipeline in dense residential areas of Farmingdale by the end of 2020.

Skye Austin, a commercial sales representative for Summit, told selectmen earlier this month that the project probably would start in 2020, but a “critical mass” of interested residents in Farmingdale could push that date forward.

“It’s going to depend on the community’s interest,” she said. “If people are really pushing to have it sooner … we will want to be responsive.”

Town residents shot down a tax break for Kennebec Valley Natural Gas LLC, a company later absorbed by Summit, at the 2012 Town Meeting, effectively killing the pipeline project. Jim Grant, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said a perceived lack of excitement for natural gas now could stem from the 2012 proposal never being realized.

“Maybe the reason you’re not seeing the same rapid response of interest as before is, everybody got all worked because you were coming and then it didn’t happen,” he said. “Now (residents say), ‘OK, well we’re not going to get excited about this until we know for sure.'”

Matt Jacobson, director of sales and marketing for Summit, said the company is “not contemplating asking for any tax incentive” for this project.

Despite the disappointment in 2012, he said Thursday, the company has received calls from 40 to 50 residents interested in switching to natural gas.

“It’s really exciting, frankly,” Jacobson said. “It seems like we got a great reception from the (selectmen, and) we think that’s a big indication.”

Grant said some formerly interested residents could have switched to other means of heating, such as wood pellet stoves. Summit competitor Brunswick-based Maine Natural Gas does not have a pipeline in Farmingdale. Summit has a few hundred feet of pipeline in the town, along small portions of Greenville Street and Maple Street near the Hallowell-Farmingdale line. Summit also services parts of Gardiner and Randolph.

Grant said Thursday that interest along the Maine Avenue corridor is “pretty good.” He said selectmen are interested in sitting down with Summit to discuss changing over the Town Office and using gas in a planned new fire station. Currently, the Town Office and the fire station on Maine Avenue use an oil boiler and a heat pump. Grant said the new fire station would require propane tanks, which could be more dangerous than simply pumping natural gas in from the street.

“I’d like to see them sit down with someone in the Town Office and go through our heating stuff,” Grant said.

A proposed list of streets for the project includes Almar Street, Ash Street, Beech Street, Burke Street, Cherry Street, Dale Street, Debra Street, Easy Street, Edmond Street, Fairway Lane, Hasson Street, Hayford Street, Hill Street, Kennebec Drive, Lonsdale Road, Maine Avenue, a larger portion of Maple Street, Oak Street, Orchard Street, Park Street, Pine Street, Riverview Drive, Roberta Street, Whitney Street, Williams Street and Windsor Terrace.

Jacobson said comparing natural gas to heating oil or other heating methods is often an apples-to-oranges comparison. During the March 20 selectmen’s meeting, Summit representatives said homes usually use 30 percent more natural gas than heating oil and 10 percent less natural gas than propane. Jacobson said natural gas is regulated by the Public Utilities Committee, which results in steadier prices, and customers get billed for only what they use.

Summit also charges a $21.10 monthly service fee to use natural gas. Converting a home to natural gas could cost around $8,000 to $12,000, according to Jacobson. He said Summit offers rebates up to $3,400 for residential customers and $6,500 to commercial accounts.

“You’re going to have to change your boiler at some point,” Jacobson said, adding that using natural gas reduces your carbon footprint. “Our thought is if you’re near that replace, you may think about another fuel source.”

 

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

 


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