Legislation authorizes service to additional natural gas customers

April 3rd, 2015     Government & Politics

More than 200 households in rural Union County and a portion of Marshall County may get affordable natural gas service in the foreseeable future.

The announcement was made Thursday, April 2, at New Albany City Hall by Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, State Representative Margaret Rogers and Mayor Tim Kent. The authorization for New Albany Light, Gas and Water (NALGW), the city-owned utility, to sell natural gas in areas well beyond the New Albany city limits is the result of a cooperative effort by the City of New Albany, the Boards of Supervisors of both Union and Marshall counties, the state legislature and governor and the State Public Service Commission.

The work was initiated by Commissioner Brandon Presley as a part of a continuing effort to provide natural gas to rural customers who now only have access to far more expensive propane gas. Without such special authority state law prevents city utilities from expanding service more than five miles from the city limits.

State Representative Margaret Rogers introduced House Bill Number 1659 and guided it through the just-ended session of the state legislature. The bill was signed by the governor earlier this week. Before the bill could start its way through the legislature, the Boards of Supervisors of both Marshall and Union Counties had to pass resolutions approving the action.

“I am very grateful to the City of New Albany, Union and Marshall County Boards of Supervisors and the Legislators involved for all their hard work,” said Presley. “This bill is tangible proof that elected officers of this state are being responsive to their constituents’ demand for energy options. Folks in rural Mississippi deserve the same choice of energy as people living in downtown Jackson.

A new facility similar to this one will have to be built near the proposed new natural gas service area.

A new facility similar to this one will have to be built near the proposed new natural gas service area.

“This is the first step to bringing natural gas to these areas of Union and Marshall Counties, but it is good to have this hurdle crossed.”

It is estimated that something over 200 rural households will eventually get natural gas service as a result of this new authorization. NALGW Manager Bill Mattox said a new control facility and pipelines will have to be built to deliver natural gas to the new customers. Mattox said construction to deliver the expanded service will cost about $600,000 and he hopes to get the necessary funds from a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). If the grant is approved construction could start late this year.

Mayor Kent thanked Commissioner Presley and Representative Rogers for their work. “They got it done quickly,” Kent said.

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