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Consumers Energy begins plans for more gas main extensions

August 29, 2012 - Consumers Energy is bringing a natural gas main extension project to Atlas Township.

Josnelly Aponte, a customer attachment program leader for Consumers, said the utility is awaiting the results of gas load studies, after which an estimate for costs to individual customers will be finalized. While a timeframe has not been established, Consumers will eventually provide the same kind of natural gas project in Atlas as is being conducted in Brandon Township.

"There will be a different price dependent on the number of customers, but we don't have that yet," said Aponte. "We will again require about 50 percent participation and contribution, but the amount won't be the same. We will have more details the beginning of next year."

Atlas Township Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones said she approached Consumers officials earlier this year after Brandon Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman began working with the utility to extend gas mains in Brandon. She has since had several conversations and meetings with Consumers Energy and has provided information including parcel and household counts.

"From our preliminary meetings, the project will most likely be done in a three part phase," Kautman-Jones said. "We have limited natural gas in the township, but the thing that is amazing is a lot of areas you would think have natural gas and there isn't— including portions of Perry Road and Baldwin Road."

Kautman-Jones is hoping for the same cost savings for Atlas residents that Brandon Township residents will see by switching to natural gas.

The primary motivation to switch to natural gas from other heat sources, including propane, is price, said Consumers Energy Customer Attachment Program Manager Dan Jones in addressing numerous Brandon Township residents at public meetings this spring following the utility's proposal to extend gas mains.

The equivalent cost of natural gas against propane is 84 cents per gallon, including, he stressed, all charges from Consumers. He compared that to $2.19 per gallon for the average price of propane and pointed out that natural gas customers would save $1.35 per gallon.

Consumers garnered 227 signed contracts from residents in the first phase of the Brandon project. Service had been offered to 442 residents initially, and 50 percent participation was required in order to proceed. Construction began in January on gas mains on Allen and Reese roads and is nearly complete in those areas. Utility crews will now move on to Stanton Road, followed by the largest area of the first phase, which includes Sashabaw, Seymour Lake and Sherwood roads, as well as side streets. The utility hopes to have gas main extension for the first phase completed by December.

Aponte was planning to attend a meeting on Thursday regarding strategy for the second phase of the gas main extension project in Brandon. The second phase includes the northwest area of the township, including S. Hadley Road, Sawmill Lake Road, Perry Lake Road, and portions of Seymour Lake, Granger, Hummer Lake and State Park roads. Phase two is estimated to include 620 residences, and again, 50 percent participation, or roughly 310 signed contracts, will be needed. Public meetings regarding phase two are expected to begin prior to Thanksgiving, or in January in order to avoid the holiday season.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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