Northern Utilities Plans Maine Expansion
Bay State Gas subsidiary Northern Utilities announced plans for
gas distribution service in communities along the coastal corridor
north of Portland, ME. Communities to be served include Bath,
Brunswick, Topsham, Freeport, Yarmouth, and Falmouth, as well as
the towns of Sanford, and Kittery in York County. The area is
contiguous to Northern's existing service territory, and gas rates
in expansion areas will mirror those of Northern's existing Maine
customers, the company said.
"Northern Utilities brought natural gas to Maine many years ago
and has had a strong track record ever since in growing our
business and making natural gas available to as many consumers as
possible," said James D. Simpson, Bay State senior vice president.
Northern has approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission
(MPUC) to serve customers in all of the announced markets and
expects to begin construction later this year. Additional gas
supplies will come from the Portland Natural Gas Transmission
System (PNGTS), which recently began construction. Bay State is an
equity partner in PNGTS.
Northern is in competition with Central Maine Power Co. (CMP)
and New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) to serve part of its
expansion area, mainly the Bath and Brunswick areas, said Northern
spokesman John Flumerfelt. Bangor Gas, which was recently granted
MPUC approval to serve the Bangor area, is not a competitor to
Northern, he said. Flumerfelt said Northern has franchise rights
for virtually the entire state except for the Bangor area. He said
the company expects CMP and NYSEG to be granted franchise rights
"for certain parts of the state but not others." CMP and NYSEG have
received preliminary approval from the MPUC for their joint
venture, CMP Natural, to serve 60 Maine communities (See Daily GPI
March 20, 1998).
Joe Fisher, Houston
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