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Natural gas provider launches expansion of service to Cumberland, Falmouth, Yarmouth

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Natural gas provider launches expansion of service to Cumberland, Falmouth, Yarmouth

CUMBERLAND — Shovels plunged into the dirt Friday, May 2, and pipes will soon be going into the ground in Cumberland, Falmouth and Yarmouth, as natural gas service is expanded to the three communities.

Summit Natural Gas announced at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Cumberland Fairgrounds that it has hired with Shaw Brothers of Gorham and Cianbro of Pittsfield to install more than 66 miles of pipeline in the three towns as part the $42 million project.

The work will begin soon, with roughly 60 percent of the installation to take place this year in Cumberland, followed by construction in Falmouth and Yarmouth, Town Manager Bill Shane said.

North Yarmouth has also expressed interest in the service, and recently polled residents for interest.

"This has been a wonderful undertaking, and it wouldn't have happened without the advanced cooperation and the foresight of the three town managers," Mike Minkos, president of Summit Natural Gas of Maine, said of Shane, Yarmouth Town Manager Nat Tupper, and Nathan Poore, town manager in Falmouth.

Poore, who called Shane "the ringleader" in the drive to bring in natural gas, noted as they got to know Summit, "we decided that we were in great hands, and it was a great partnership for these three communities. ... It's great when a plan comes to fruition."

A natural gas pipeline already runs through the western part of Cumberland. Summit is tapping into that line near the fairgrounds.

Work was already underway as the speakers addressed the audience, with the grinding of excavators ringing in the background.

"This is where our gate station will be, and our measurement station," Minkos explained. "The Maritimes high-pressure pipeline runs in the right-of-way here, and ... this will be the interconnect, where we will measure the gas and then reduce its pressure to build out our distribution infrastructure that will leave this site and then be intertwined throughout the three communities."

Early installation of the distribution pipeline will occur on Blanchard, Bruce Hill and Tuttle roads in Cumberland, reaching down to Route 1, and to Falmouth via Route 88 (Foreside Road), and Yarmouth via Middle Road.

The project represents an approximately $42 million investment in the three towns, is expected to create about 200 jobs, and could serve about 8,000 residential, industrial and commercial customers in the next five years, according to Summit.

There will typically be no cost to homeowners living within 200 feet of the line in the road, according to Shane. Exceptions would be due to the presence of a lot of ledge or other significant obstacles that would block a trench from the road to the home, he explained.

The property owners are responsible for conversion costs. In cases where they live more than 200 feet from the line, there is a per-foot charge to the owner, should they choose to connect, and connections remain optional, Shane said.

There is no cost to the towns, except for interior conversions done to facilitate natural gas.

So far more than 500 customers have signed contracts with the Colorado-based company, which has also installed more than 130 miles of pipeline in central Maine.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.