Exactly when residents of North Lewisburg will have natural gas largely depends on negotiations between an infrastructure supplier and Columbia Gas.
The issue between the two sides is Columbia’s available capacity to service the village.
Bob Smith of Legacy Pipeline Services of Westlake addressed North Lewisburg Village Council members at a Tuesday meeting about the prospects for bringing natural gas lines to the village. The non-profit company specializes in securing natural gas to small villages, recently providing service to DeGraff.
Smith explained that negotiations with Columbia Gas have stalled over the cost of supplying the needed gas for the village. Smith said the current cost involved does not make servicing the village viable, but he continues to negotiate with the company for a compromise as the project gains support from officials in Logan County.
“I don’t want to come down too hard on Columbia because we really need them,” Smith said.
Smith explained that Ohio has vast stores of natural gas available but the large pipelines that carry the majority of the resource to not cover the entire state. He explained that an organization called the Ohio Gas Access Partnership has been formed in the state to address this very issue.
Smith added that the project, which has been in the works since 2015, has the support of economic development offices of Champaign and Logan counties as they seek to improve supply to commercial and industrial sites.
If the cost hurdle is cleared, the project will get underway quickly and could be in place in 12-18 months, according to Smith. He explained that Legacy and Columbia Gas already know the closest available connection point to serve the project, near U.S. 33 and Route 287 in the area of an existing supply station near the Honda facilities.
Smith said Legacy would extend a supply line along Route 287 to Route 559 which would then give access to the village. Along the way, Legacy would seek to provide service to businesses and even large farming operations, which use natural gas to dry crops.
The project to supply North Lewisburg would also allow Legacy to eventually serve Millersburg and Woodstock as well.
The operation would serve as a cooperative, meaning customers would pay a one-time membership fee of $60 be join, but most would not be charged for initial hook-up to the system. Eventually a board of customers would be formed to help set rates and rules for the system, which would be known as the North Lewisburg Natural Gas Cooperative.
Aside from its negotiations with Columbus Gas, Legacy provides engineering for the project, secures necessary easements for the lines and provides annual reports to state and federal regulators. The company would also oversee billing, maintenance and emergency repair needs of customers. Smith said Legacy uses subcontractors for the actual installation of the lines.
Smith said that while customers joining the system from the outset may hook into to the network for free, those added after it is in operation would pay tap-in fees that could reach $3,000.
Smith asked council to approve an ordinance extending the existing agreement between the village and Legacy to allow the company to continue to negotiate on behalf of the village.
Council voted 5-0 to approve the extension.
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