Waynesfield close to natural gas use

WAYNESFIELD — After many attempts and failures to bring a natural gas utility to the village of Waynesfield, village officials are now closer than ever to bringing natural gas service to the community.
Councilors approved an ordinance this week appointing Peck Shaffer of Covington, Ky., as bond counsel, if a study proves the utility feasible to the village.
In the past, village officials tried several times to bring natural gas to Waynesfield to make utilities more affordable for residents.
Mayor Mike Ridenour said he can recall at least four times it has been attempted, including twice in his 12-year stint as mayor.
Ridenour said when the village hired Fred Rowe as village administrator, he was assigned with the task of trying to bring natural gas to the community.
The difference this time around has
been that we will be our own utility,” Ridenour said. “Before, we would have been a customer. Now we will be doing it for profit.”
Ridenour and Rowe actively pursued potential deals with Dominion, Columbia and Vectron, for a potential company to hook up with for the venture. Vectron climbed on board as a potential provider.
Rowe started doing the legwork for the project in the summer of 2010 and has since been working on the lengthy process. An environmental study was just completed this week for the proposed project and a feasibility study is still underway.
Rowe said the community was at the point in the process where they needed to have bond counsel retained in case the project continues to move forward.
Councilors approved a measure in March to have Julie Ward of Rural Communities Assistance Partnership to draft a contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a project. Fanning/Howey Associates in Celina is handling the engineering for the project. The project has been submitted with the USDA for review anne approval
Rowe said the contract with the bond counsel will take effect only if the plan moves forward.
If councilors decide to bring a natural gas utility to Waynesfield, their customer area would include from north of Lakeview to Waynesfield.
Councilors and natural gas officials would consider the option of including New Hampshire in the proposal and would allow for expansion in the future, possibly into Uniopolis.
“Anything would be possible to pick up if it would be financially reasonable,” Rowe said.
The village was approved to apply for a USDA loan to found the project based on Waynesfield residents alone, and Rowe said any other customers added would be a bonus.
Rowe said natural ga would bring many benefits to the community.
“The village would be able to become their own gas utility,” Rowe said. “Natural gas would enhance the quality of life and it would be cheaper than other sources such as propane or electric. Adding customers from the outside would help support our ability to have natural gas.”
Ridenour said members of the community have showed overwhelming support for the project.
“The feedback has been very favorable,” Ridenour said. “Everyone wants to know when we are going to get it.”