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Northern Utilities Plans Maine Expansion

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 &amp 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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