Yarmouth resident unhappy with Summit Gas promise

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YARMOUTH — Summit Natural Gas may not complete installation of gas lines to some homes by a promised deadline of Nov. 1, and at least one resident is unhappy about the delay.

Valerie Hamilton of Melissa Drive said Summit informed her on April 14 that she and neighbors on the street would be linked to natural gas by Saturday. Hamilton said Summit had also confirmed to her earlier this fall that the Nov. 1 deadline would be met.

But last week, Hamilton, who has been planning her home heating budget around the new fuel, learned the date has been pushed back.

Hamilton only learned of the delay after calling the company to ask if the project would be completed on time. 

“They were willing to let me know when they were on track, but when they couldn’t live up to expectations, they didn’t let me know,” Hamilton said.

Summit in January 2013 submitted a proposal to the town saying the company wanted to “provide service to at least 80 percent of the homes and businesses of the towns within five years.” Cumberland and Falmouth were included in the plan as well.

The three towns accepted the proposal to install 66 miles of pipeline as part of a $42 million project, and work started in May. On Yarmouth’s website, a map outlines when certain roads will have pipes installed. Roads outlined in red, including Melissa Drive, were supposed to have piping by the end of 2014.

When Hamilton contacted Summit on Oct. 23 for an update, and in response received a voicemail message from sales representative Jocelyne Deraspe.

“I’m not sure when we’ll be installing your service line,” Deraspe said in the message that Hamilton saved. “They’ve been extremely busy of course. Hopefully it’s this year, but I don’t have an answer right now.”

Deraspe on Oct. 28 said she can’t answer any questions about when the line will be installed as she still doesn’t know the answer. Several other Summit representatives said Mike Duguay, the company’s director of business development, would have more information, but he did not respond to an interview request.

Hamilton said she wishes Summit had notified her sooner that the work wouldn’t be done on time, so she wouldn’t have had to make preparations to use natural gas this heating season.

“I took a bank loan to pay for a furnace and got several quotes for a furnace,” Hamilton said. “No one would commit to a quote at first because they didn’t believe Summit would have (the line installed) in time.”

Hamilton eventually did get a cost estimate, but has now found that the effort was for nothing. She said she wishes she could have spent that time looking for an alternative heating source. She said she didn’t get her “old, inefficient oil boiler” cleaned this year because she thought she wouldn’t need it. 

Upon finding out that the natural gas line wouldn’t be ready in time, Hamilton had to get propane.

“I called and I’m getting propane ’cause I couldn’t do that to my kids,” she said.

Hamilton, who has three children, said she’s also been using a wood stove recently, but that she didn’t make plans to use it through the winter.

“I would have gotten more wood,” Hamilton said. “I would have gotten propane sooner.”

According to the voicemail from Deraspe, Hamilton’s street isn’t even scheduled yet.

“You can call me back in a few weeks to see if they added Melissa Drive on the schedule,” Deraspe said in the message. “I’m so sorry about that, but I really don’t have a timeframe right now for you guys.”

While Hamilton said she is upset the line won’t be installed on time, she said she would have at least appreciated a heads-up.

“I just really wish they had let me know,” she said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.