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Energy East Takes the Lead In Maine Gas Distribution

Energy East Takes the Lead In Maine Gas Distribution

CMP Natural Gas, a joint venture between Energy East Corp. (formerly NYSEG) and Central Maine Power Group, started serving customers in Windham, ME, last week, giving CMP Natural a big advantage over Bangor Gas, the other company vying to distribute gas in the state.

Although CMP Natural is only serving Windham presently, it plans to expand distribution to 35 cities and towns within the Bethel, greater Bangor, Waterville and Augusta, as well as the Falmouth and Bath coastal communities before the end of the year. None of these cities or towns previously had a gas distribution-system in place.

The company is buying gas from companies with capacity on Portland Natural Gas Transmission System pipeline (PNGTS). Tim Kelley, a CMP spokesman, said the company is in negotiations with PNGTS to purchase its own capacity on the line. He added the Maritimes pipeline, which begins service next year, will bolster CMP's expansion efforts.

Kelley said CMP hopes to sign up "several hundred thousand" customers but could not forecast annual gas demand on the system.

The announcement is a setback for Bangor Gas, a joint venture between Bangor Hydro and Sempra Energy. Bangor has plans to implement a competing distribution program, but Denise King, a spokesperson for the company, said service will not begin until the Maritimes pipeline goes into service. King added that Bangor is still confident about its chances. "They [CMP Natural] say they're going to distribute in Bangor, but we're the ones who already have pipe in the ground."

John Norris

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