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Maine Natural Gas Claims First NatGas Pipeline Into Augusta

Maine Natural Gas (MNG) has finished filling its new 21-mile natural gas main, which runs from the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline tap in Windsor, ME, and on to the MaineGeneral Medical Center (MGMC) in Augusta, the state's capital.

The $23 million backbone, begun by MNG in March (see Daily GPI, March 11), is the first natural gas pipeline ever to reach Augusta, the company said.

"We made history when we finished filling the lines on both sides of the Kennebec," said MNG Vice President Darrel Quimby. "We're grateful for everyone's patience during construction. Now, with the major work behind us, we can concentrate on delivering affordable natural gas to our first Augusta customers, which we expect will happen this week."

MNG has already signed up more than 250 state, commercial and residential customers for Augusta-area natural gas delivery, including MGMC, the University of Maine at Augusta, the capitol building and the Edmund Muskie Federal Building. MNG signed a 10-year agreement last fall to supply gas to the new regional hospital (see Daily GPI, Nov. 1, 2012).

Last year, state officials selected MNG to build an 80-mile gas pipeline to Augusta and the surrounding Kennebec Valley. The decision was promptly appealed by Summit Natural Gas of Maine (see Daily GPI, Aug. 23, 2012). The dispute has taken the two companies before a special state appeal panel and Kennebec County Superior Court (see Daily GPI, Oct. 18, 2012).

In January, Maine's Public Utilities Commission approved Summit's request to provide service to customers in 17 municipalities in the Kennebec Valley region (see Daily GPI, Jan. 14). Summit began the buildout of its $350 million transmission and distribution system into the area in early June (see Daily GPI,June 6). Last month Summit announced that Augusta had signed a contract with the company to provide natural gas service to all city buildings, including schools. As part of the contract, Summit will invest $63 million in infrastructure to provide gas service in the city, for a total of more than 130 miles of pipeline.

The state this year adopted an omnibus energy bill (LD 1442) that would increase the state's gas pipeline capacity. The bill, which was adopted by both the Maine House and Senate, was vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage, but legislators overruled that veto.

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