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Consumers Energy meetings set for Atlas, Brandon



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August 14, 2013 - Natural gas service could be available everywhere in Atlas and Brandon townships next year.

Consumers Energy has set public meetings to outline plans to continue extending natural gas mains in both townships. If 50 percent participation is reached in each project area, natural gas service would be an option for all residents in both townships.

"It's a wonderful thing," said Debra Dodd, a Consumers Energy representative. "For many years, we didn't do a lot of expansion. We get calls from people every day who want to make the switch. It's great we have this program that offers financing… The economy is picking up, and we're doing a lot more work in general. Customer requests and the economy have made it much more feasible to proceed."

Consumers Energy will host public meetings for Atlas Township residents in phase 2 of the project at 6 p.m, Aug. 20, and 1 p.m., Aug. 24, at Goodrich High School, 8029 S. Gale Road. Phase two includes 430 Atlas Township homes east of M-15.

Consumers meetings for Brandon Township residents who are in a proposed phase 3 in the northeast corner, which includes a potential 850 homes, will be 6:30 p.m., Sept. 17 and 6:30 p.m., Sept. 24, at Brandon High School, 1025 S. Ortonville Road.

"I'm really excited because this will give everyone in the township a chance to have gas extended to them," said Atlas Township Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones. "Once it is finished, everyone will have been offered gas, whether they choose to take advantage or not. Everyone is different, but at least the effort was in place to give them the opportunity to make the decision."

Kautman-Jones, a 33-year Atlas resident, said in her first township home on Henderson Road, she sought natural gas service and it was costly to have Consumers extend the mains and get hooked in to service, but worthwhile in the long run for the savings over propane. In her current home, there was no gas main anywhere near, so natural gas was not an option until now.

Construction on phase one of the Atlas Township gas main extension project will be completed this year, with 135 customers west of M-15 connecting.

In Brandon Township, construction on phase two of the gas main extension project is underway, with 383 customers included. Phase one construction was completed last year, with 227 residences now receiving natural gas service.

Dodd said the potential customers in phase two in Atlas as well as phase 3 in Brandon will receive the same prices to connect for natural gas service as the customers who connected in the previous phases. The customer contribution can be financed for $47.47 per month in Atlas, and for $49.50 per month in Brandon. The current natural gas price is equivalent to roughly 77 cents per gallon of propane, Dodd said, more than $1.20 per gallon cheaper compared to the average propane price. A typical customer could save about $1,400 per year.

Sign-ups and deposits are not required at the public meetings, but 50 percent participation will be needed within two months of the meetings in order for the project to proceed on schedule. In Atlas, this would mean about 215 homes committing. In Brandon, a little more than 400 homes would make the project a go.

For more information, call Consumers toll-free at 1-888-GAS-MAIN.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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