BREWER, Maine — Businesses and residents in the downtown area — between Center and Wilson streets, and along Union Street — will soon have access to new Bangor Gas Co. lines that will be installed this spring, Jon Kunz, marketing and sales manager for the company, said Tuesday.
Bangor Gas also has plans to install roughly a half-mile of natural gas infrastructure between Interstate 395 and Cianbro in South Brewer, but is still waiting for potential customers sign up for service before moving ahead, Kunz said.
The city will benefit from the new gas lines, Finance Director Karen Fussell said in a letter to City Manager Steve Bost.
The downtown gas line extension “will allow City Hall to convert to natural gas (a $5,000-7,000 per year savings),” Fussell wrote. “As you know the Brewer Auditorium converted to gas last fall and they have already realized over $7,000 in savings this winter alone compared to what they would have spent for heating oil.”
The downtown line “would be to serve Getchell Brothers, City Hall, a church and some other businesses in that area,” Kunz said. “We’re going to be extending down Union Street, across North Main and heading north and south,” where a number of homes and apartment buildings are located.
The proposed South Main Street extension “will provide upwards of $20,000 per year in cost savings for our Water Pollution Control Facility on Oak Street,” the finance director said.
Cianbro officials also are interested in tapping the proposed Oak Street line, Joe Cote, general manager of Cianbro’s Eastern Manufacturing Facility in South Brewer, said Tuesday.
“Natural gas is clean and certainly in recent years has been quite competitive,” he said.
Cianbro currently uses an alternate fuel that is stored in tanks that would be eliminated once the underground line is installed, Cote said.
“Anytime we can remove or eliminate tanks that can be struck or contacted, it’s a good thing,” he said. “It provides a safer environment. If there are any leaks, it’s lighter than air and dissipates. For those reason it makes good sense.”
By converting to natural gas, Cianbro officials “will lower their cost on the site by about two-thirds,” Kunz said.
The sizable price gap between natural gas and heating oil in recent years has made natural gas very inviting for many communities, which spend thousands of dollars heating municipal and school buildings. It also has caught the attention of Gov. Paul LePage, who has made expanding Maine’s natural gas infrastructure one of his top priorities.
To attract more South Main Street customers, Bangor Gas sent a letter to residents and business owners in that area of the city on Friday. The letter features information about the proposed project and where to sign up.
According to the company’s website, 24 service contracts are needed and 13 have been signed for the South Main Street project, which stretches from Grove to Oak streets.
There are a total of five gas line extension projects approved or being considered for Brewer this year. The approved projects are North Main Street and a portion of Longfellow and Washington streets. The three under consideration are on South Main Street, Acme Road and Maple Street, the gas company’s website states.
Bangor Gas also is working to add lines in Bangor, Orono and Bucksport.
Those interested in finding out more — including where other natural gas lines are being installed in the Bangor area — may go to bangorgas.com.