December 4, 2008

Commission to seek public input on

The Hazen City Commission took one small step toward turning the potential for natural gas service to reality – agreeing Monday evening to an exclusivity agreement with Michigan companies Major Pipelines LLC and Porter Survey PC.

Now, they will poll the public to get their thoughts.

About one week ago, Hazen City Planner Steve Frovarp met with Gerald Rushmore, Major Pipelines primary contractor and their company’s attorney to discuss an exclusivity agreement, which would prevent the city of Hazen from dealing with any other contractors until after 2013.

Major Pipeline and Porter representatives also asked for the city to conduct a survey of residents to help determine if there is enough interest to pursue a ballot measure that would establish the natural gas service as a municipal utility, and how many potential customers are in the community.

"If there would be enough (community) interest to spend the money on an election, at that time we’d make a decision: How much involvement, commitment and investment would the city make in the distribution system?" Commissioner Ken Link said.

The underground, high-pressure gas transmission line would branch from the Northern Border Pipeline and enter the very southwest corner of Mercer County, running northwest through Beulah and continuing east to Hazen. The Northern Border Pipeline is a natural gas pipeline that brings gas from Canada through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa into the Chicago area. Major Pipeline chose Hazen and Beulah because of the two towns’ combined population and prosperity.

Frovarp, along with Beulah Job Development Authority Director John Phillips, drafted a tentative survey to gauge community interest. The first question asks: "Would you be in favor of the city establishing a municipal utility so that natural gas could be provided in Hazen?" The second question asks: "Would you consider signing up for natural gas service?" If "yes," the resident would be asked what they would use natural gas for. If "no," the resident is asked why not. Commissioners were asked to report suggested changes and recommendations to city auditor Sandy Bohrer by Monday.

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