BERLIN — Work is moving faster than expected for the much anticipated installation of a natural gas network in Worcester County.
According to County Commissioner Judy Boggs, who has led the charge to bring natural gas to the area, Chesapeake Utilities is nearing the final stages of laying a transmission line, which will feed natural gas into Worcester, and should be finished by early-August, weeks ahead of their original timeline.
“They are a month ahead of schedule,” Boggs confirmed. “They’ve had some good weather.”
The transmission line is slated to act as a trunk of sorts for the spreading of natural gas, with various other companies responsible for branching off that main line to spread the gas throughout Worcester. The transmission line will come in through Delaware and follow Route 113 before connecting to Route 50 and ending in Berlin.
“They hope to offer it to all of Worcester County,” said Boggs. “But it’s going to take a while to do all of that … there are going to be various companies hooking up at the transmission line at Friendship Rd and Route 50.”
The news that Chesapeake Utilities is ahead of schedule coincides with an announcement made earlier this week that the company will be acquiring the operating assets of Eastern Shore Gas. The acquisition will allow Chesapeake to facilitate the change from propane delivery to natural gas in the area.
“Chesapeake is in the process of evaluating the potential conversion of some of the facilities of Eastern Shore Gas from propane to natural gas,” said Jeffrey R. Tietbohl, Vice President of Chesapeake and senior leader responsible for Chesapeake’s natural gas distribution operating division in Maryland.
“Where economical and feasible, Chesapeake expects to undertake such conversions. Chesapeake is also in the process of developing programs to assist customers in the conversion to natural gas in those areas where it becomes available.”
The switch from propane to natural gas will not happen overnight, explained Boggs, and may be more difficult in some areas than others.
“It’s very complex how they need to change over pipes that now deliver propane to natural gas,” she remarked.
Boggs went on to say that “cost is another big factor” that will play a big role during the conversion process. By her estimate, Eastern Shore Gas handles about 7,000 propane-based accounts in Ocean Pines, West Ocean City, Glen Riddle, and Berlin, all of which should have the potential to eventually transition to natural gas, which Boggs has stated many times should show a “noticeable savings” in the long run.