About 35 people attended a hearing Thursday afternoon in New Albany regarding expanding natural gas service to rural parts of Union and neighboring counties.
Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley conducted a hearing in the courtroom of the Union County Courthouse regarding a proposal to extend natural gas service to about 150 rural customers in Union County and Marshall County. New Albany Lights, Gas, and Water (NALGW), the utility company owned by the city of New Albany, initiated the project about two years ago in answer to demand for natural gas service in rural areas.
NALGW has received a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to help with the construction. According to NALGW Manager Bill Mattox, an additional $3-million in bonds would be sold to fund the system expansion. The 20-year bonds would be paid off from revenue generated by the sale of natural gas to the new customers. He said about 16 miles of gas pipeline would have to be installed in Union and Marshall in order to deliver gas to the proposed additional customers
Mattox said the work would also involve the installation of a new “gate system” for gas delivery. He said the new gate system would furnish better service by providing a redundant gas supply to existing customers. He said the expansion would also increase the city’s chances of recruiting new industries to locate on that side of New Albany.
Presley, who is Northern District Public Service Commission, has been working for several years to expand natural gas service in rural parts of north Mississippi. Rural households without natural gas service must buy propane, liquefied petroleum (LP), for home heating, cooking, etc. LP must be delivered to tanks at rural locations by trucks, and costs much more than natural gas.
Some of those attending the Thursday hearing live in areas that will probably not have natural gas any time soon. Residents of Darden Lake homes and cabins have expressed desire for natural gas. Mattox said NALGW has to receive commitments, including cash deposits, from 10 to twelve customers per mile in order to furnish new natural gas service.
Rural residents realize considerable savings when natural gas is made available and NAGLW benefits from the increased revenue generated by the new customers.