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Consumers Energy ready to expand gas line through township



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February 29, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- Consumers Energy is offering township residents the option of natural gas.

More than half the township depends on propane to heat their homes, as Consumers has gas main infrastructure in a limited area, concentrated in the southeast corner of the township along M-15 and parts of the northwest section.

At the request of Supervisor Kathy Thurman and several residents, Consumers is proposing installation of gas mains in three phases.

"I think this would offer our residents a more economical way to heat their homes," said Thurman. "Cost is the primary advantage (of natural gas over propane)."

During a preliminary meeting Feb. 23 with Thurman and about 20 residents, Consumers Customer Attachment Program Manager Dan Jones explained the highlights of the proposal.

The first phase of the project would offer natural gas service to residents on Allen Road, Brandon Lane, Breezewood and Breezewood Court, Burris Road and Burris Court, Cook Trail, Harmony Lane, Ingles Lane, Kathleen Lake Drive, Lakeview Trail, Laughing Wolf Lane, Little Lake Road, Marsh Lane, McNaughton, Oakbrook Drive, Osprey Ridge, Reese Road, Sarah's Way, Sashabaw Lane, Sashabaw Road (south of Granger), Seymour Lake Road (east of Perry Lake Road), Shady Lane, Sherwood Road and Sherwood Court, a portion of Stanton Road, Thornridge Trail, Victorian Lane, and Wooley Road.

In order for gas lines to be installed, Consumers must have at least 50 percent participation from residents in this area. At least half the residents in the first phase must sign up to be connected, or the project will not proceed to second and third phases, which will include more northern areas in the township.The gas main contribution will not exceed $4,000 per resident, and could be less depending on the number of residents who sign up. A connection fee of $200 will include 333 feet of gas line from the resident's front property line. Additional service costs such as excess service footage or boring charges could apply. The gas main contribution can be financed at an 8.06 percent finance rate over the course of 10 years.

Jones said there has been a steady decline in the cost of natural gas over the past 18 months. Currently, the equivalent cost of natural gas against propane is 89 cents per gallon. For contrast, he used an example with the suggested retail price of propane at $2.40 per gallon. A home using 1,600 gallons of propane at this price would pay $3,840 annually. Using the same amount of natural gas, a resident would pay $1,424, a savings of $1.50 per gallon and $2,416 per year. Additionally, he noted that natural gas increases home value.

Rick Gibbons, a Sashabaw Road resident, was at the meeting. He noted that neighbors who did not want to pay the initial connection fee killed a similar proposal about five years ago.

"I hope the neighbors realize it will improve the value of their homes and they will save money on having natural gas because it's regulated by the government and propane isn't," he said. "We are at the mercy of the propane companies right now. In three years, we will be paying ourselves back with the savings from natural gas over propane."

Consumers Energy plans to send letters this month to township residents who could be included in the first phase of the project. A meeting with these residents is set for 7 p.m., April 10, at the Brandon High School Performing Arts Ceneter, 1025 S. Ortonville Road, at which connection fee deposits will be accepted, signaling participation in the project. If the 50 percent participation is not reached, all deposits would be refunded.

Gas main installation could begin this spring and be completed by Christmas.

"We hope you view this as an attractive potential project," said Jones.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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