Worcester Now Has Natural Gas Accord With Two Companies

SNOW HILL — Worcester County entered into a non-exclusive service agreement with Chesapeake Utilities for natural gas Tuesday.

Chesapeake joins Eastern Shore Gas (ESG) as the two franchises so far that have taken advantage of a general intention to bring natural gas to Worcester by next year.

“Natural gas will benefit Worcester County,” said Steve Thompson, Senior Vice-President of Chesapeake Utilities and President of its subsidiary, Eastern Shore Natural Gas (ESNG).

Thompson gave a brief presentation highlighting the benefits of using natural gas as opposed to propane, touching on many of the same points ESG representatives highlighted two weeks prior, including the lower cost and less negative environmental impact of natural gas.

According to Thompson, natural gas customers saved about $50.5 million in 2010, averaging out to approximately $1,060 per customer. He also mentioned that using natural gas creates a smaller carbon footprint than most other fuel sources, even electricity.

While most of the selling points of natural gas were already touched upon by ESG weeks before, Thompson did outline several reasons why the commission should specifically extend a non-exclusive service agreement to ESNG: mainly, its solid safety record and dedicated timetable for construction.

“It’s a tight timetable today,” he said.

The plan so far is to spend April through July obtaining all necessary permits and licenses that would be needed for the project. Construction of pipeline facilities is slated to begin in August and should be completed and operational by December of next year.

After the presentation, the commission only had a few comments. Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw suggested that ESNG encourage the use of local contractors when it reaches the point where homes are being converted for natural gas. Thompson agreed that it was a good idea, though individual homeowners may wind up choosing contractors themselves.

The commission decided to grant Chesapeake a non-exclusive service agreement. Even though ESG already has the same kind of deal, the commissioners ruled that, since they were both non-exclusive agreements, there shouldn’t be any issues having identical contracts.