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Got gas? Addison's looking into it

Addison Township Supervisor Bruce Pearson discusses where natural gas lines could potentially be located with Julie Kubacki and John Foley, of Consumers Energy. Photo by Trevor Keiser. (click for larger version)
July 31, 2013 - Addison Township officials began preliminary discussions with Consumers Energy last week about the possibility of bringing natural gas to Addison residents.

"We don't have a price yet, nor do we have a timeline. At this point we're kind of feeling out the township to see the interest to natural gas," said Julie Kubacki with Consumers Energy. "If there is low interest, obviously we won't pursue any further, (but if there is high interest) then we'll move forward with either township-wide meetings or smaller individual meetings."

She noted that they typically need at least 50 percent participation before the project would even be constructed per road or phase, depending on how they decide to split the project.

Addison Township Supervisor Bruce Pearson, who's spoken to several residents already, doesn't think getting 50 percent participation will be a problem.

"We have a strong reaction from our residents that they definitely want natural gas," he said. "They know how costly it is to heat their homes out here without natural gas."

"I'm very confident that this would be a service to everyone in the community here," continued Pearson. "With the type of homes we have here, if you can get natural gas to them you'll definitely save, we believe at minimum 50 percent on your heating cost."

Kubacki said the price equivalency of natural gas to propane is 77 cents per gallon.

"If you're paying more than 77 cents a gallon for propane or fuel oil then you're going to have payback," she said. "They can figure out how much they're paying a gallon and how much they're paying a year and use that to estimate their savings."

The cost for the main lines installed would be divided by how many residents were using that line, explained Pearson. For example, if 10 houses on a street were connected to the main, the cost of the line would be divided by 10. If it were 20 houses then it would be divided by 20. The cost would be $200 for 299 feet and $9 per foot after that.

"In my mind, that is a win-win situation," he said. "If you can get it to your house at a reasonable rate and you can spend 10 years paying for the main to go down the street, and everybody shares that price, which includes the meter."

Natural gas, said Pearson will also increase real estate values, especially when it comes time to sell a home.

"Once gas is available and when new people build they'll also hook up to the gas and defray part of the cost, too," he said. "It also might make a determination whether somebody builds or not. I've heard a lot of people say 'if I don't have natural gas I'm not prepared to build at this time.'"

Pearson originally heard about Consumers through Groveland Township Supervisor Bob DePalma, who switched to natural gas throughout his township several years ago and said it was the "best thing ever."

"Brandon Township also used his experience and Supervisor Kathy Thurman has already begun this," Pearson said. "She got me in touch with the Consumers people, too. I know Bill Dunn in Oxford Township is also having talks with them about bringing gas there."

The next step for Addison is setting up a volunteer committee that will go door-to-door and handing out flyers to garner interest.

"(Township Trustee) Ed Brakefield has already volunteered to start canvassing neighborhoods," Pearson said. "We'll make up a flyer and tell them we're going to have an open meeting at a specific time with Consumers to inform all the residents once we know how many people are interested."

Brakefield said he's just "happy to be a part of the team."

"When I heard Bruce was putting this thing together, I wanted to join the team right off the bat. I don't think we're going to have a problem getting 50 percent participation and I don't think we'll have a problem getting a committee set up (to be) door-knockers," he said. "All I think we need is communication. Once we get the communication out there, with the help of Oxford Leader, I think it's going to fly."

As far as Consumers standpoint, Kubacki said they're happy to serve whoever would like natural gas.

"Our goal is to have happy customers and serve as many people as we can," she said. "The more customers (we have) the better."

For questions or more information call Supervisor Bruce Pearson at 248-628-5409 ext 12. If you're interested in receiving natural gas to your home call Clerk Pauline Bennett at 248-628-5409 ext 16 or e-mail pbennett@twp.addison.mi.us.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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