AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine natural gas company that hopes to build 76 miles of distribution lines in Kennebec and Somerset counties is trying to determine if there are enough potential customers to justify the $70 million to $80 million price tag.
State regulators recently gave conditional approval for the project that would run an 8-inch gas line from Richmond to Madison on the west side of the Kennebec River with additional distribution loops running off the main line.
A dozen communities will be asked to give tax breaks for the project.
Kennebec Valley Gas Co. is headed by Mark Isaacson and Richard Silkman — the founders of Competitive Energy Services and Grid Solar, energy firms that are working with Central Maine Power Co. on projects in Portland and in the Midcoast region.
The company would be the fourth in the state to provide natural gas, which is available in greater Portland, Lewiston-Auburn, greater Bangor, the Brunswick area and Kittery, according to the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Isaacson said he and Silkman formed Kennebec Valley Gas Co. in 2010 because they saw a need for another energy option in the region.
The project would provide a source of energy that’s less expensive and less harmful to the environment than oil or propane, according to the company, while also retaining jobs by lowering energy costs for customers, which could include mills, shopping malls, hospitals and colleges.
The Kennebec Journal says the gas would come from the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline that runs from Baileyville to Kittery.
Officials hope to begin construction next year or 2013.