Sandpiper, Ocean Pines Ink Natural Gas Deal

Sandpiper, Ocean Pines Ink Natural Gas Deal

BERLIN – Natural gas is expected to finally come to Ocean Pines in 2016 following an agreement between the homeowner’s association and Sandpiper Energy.

After lengthy negotiations, the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) and Sandpiper Energy came to an agreement regarding the conversion of the community to natural gas last week. According to OPA General Manager Bob Thompson, the process is expected to begin within 90 days.

“We’re finally bringing an alternative fuel source to our residents,” he said. “Our primary goal through the process was to reach a fair, balanced, comprehensive settlement package that met short term and long-term issues that were raised. There have been many iterations and a lot of comments back and forth. The end result was bringing a lot of different pieces to the table.”

Thompson said there were three elements to the final agreement — a ground lease, a services agreement and a deed of easement.

He said the ground lease provided the energy company with space on OPA property that would allow them to do necessary maintenance. Sandpiper will have access to space in the OPA Public Works yard.

“We felt that was appropriate and worked to everyone’s advantage,” Thompson said, adding that OPA would be benefitting financially from this portion of the agreement, which would last a decade. “The total value of that over 10 years is $162,000.”

The services agreement., Thompson explained, described how OPA would provide the company access to its website and newsletters for communication purposes.

“Whenever we’ve made a change we’ve found the biggest part we have is making sure members understand and know what’s going on,” Thompson said.

He said the association had provided similar access to other companies that served the Pines, such as those offering garbage collection and cable.

He said this portion of the agreement was for five years and would bring the association $30,000.

The final aspect was the deed of easement, which grants the energy company a perpetual non-exclusive easement for the purpose of installing, operating and maintaining the gas distribution system.

“This is perpetual,” Thompson said. “It’s ongoing as long as they’re in business.”

He said that yielded $134,000 for the association. He said that overall, the total agreement would have a financial benefit of just under $400,000 to OPA because it had also included legal fees.

“We’ve established a relationship with them and covered our costs to do so,” he said.