BANGOR, Maine — After weeks of talks aimed at resolving the problem, the city informed Bangor Gas Co. on Tuesday that it no longer will issue permits for the installation of natural gas lines.
The decision was prompted by the company’s failure to repair trenches dug in paved sections of the city’s right-of-way, city officials said in a news release.
The gravel in some of the trenches has been settling or washing out, causing them to become deeper and posing problems for motorists and pedestrians, said Tanya Pereira, the city’s business development specialist.
“City councilors have been getting complaints for weeks,” she said.
Among the streets Bangor Gas has worked on this year are Buck, Pearl and Howard streets; West Broadway and Royal Road, Art Morgan, the city’s director of public services, said Tuesday.
Bangor Gas General Manager Jerry Livengood and Jonathan Kunz, manager of marketing and sales, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday afternoon and early evening.
Bangor Gas has been expanding natural gas lines throughout Bangor to meet residential and commercial demand for the energy source but many of the trenches that have been dug as part of that process have not been repaired, creating a safety hazard.
“The city of Bangor must ensure that when these permits are issued, the contractors have the ability to fulfill the work and repair damage that is done to streets and sidewalks,” said Morgan.
“Due to their failure to do so, we feel it is in the best interests of the city of Bangor to not approve any additional permits to Bangor Gas this season unless in the case of an emergency,” he said.
Morgan said Bangor Gas is in the process of expanding its residential customer base in Bangor. Last year, the city issued the company 150 installation permits. This year, the total jumped to 630.
Bangor Gas representatives told city officials that they plan to add 1,000 new residential customers next year, though those will not all be in Bangor, he said.
The company uses contractors for some of the installation work and all of the restoration work, which includes paving, Morgan said.
Among the reasons the city is pushing the issue is that the construction season is winding down and area pavement plants will be closing within the next few weeks.
City Manager Catherine Conlow had this to say:
“Unfortunately, this measure will adversely affect both residential and commercial customers that are counting on natural gas for the upcoming heating season.
“Bangor Gas will be required to provide satisfactory repair and pave the trenches already open in the next two weeks, before the weather is too cold to complete this important work.”