The proposed merger of Southern Missouri Gas Co. — doing business as Southern Missouri Natural Gas (SMNG) and Missouri Gas Utility (MGU) has been approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC). The merger would not result in any rate changes or a reduced level of service or reliability, the companies said in their application to the PSC. SMNG serves about 8,000 customers in Greene, Webster, Laclede, Wright, Douglas, Texas, Howell, Stone and Taney counties;. MGU serves about 1,500 customers in Harrison, Daviess, Caldwell, Pettis and Benton counties. The post-merger company would operate as Missouri Gas Utility.

Encana Corp. subsidiary Encana Natural Gas Inc. has opened a compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Strathmore, AB, about 25 miles east of Calgary. The station will fuel Encana’s growing fleet of natural gas-power vehicles and, beginning next year, will be available to other corporate fleets. The Strathmore station, which could eventually be made available to the public, joins other Encana CNG stations already operating in Fort Lupton, CO, Parachute, CO, Red River Parish, LA and Sierra, BC. Encana is converting much of its vehicle fleet to natural gas fuel; currently 128 of its approximately 1,400-vehicle North American fleet runs on natural gas. Natural gas vehicle (NGV) demand in North America is restricted mostly to fleet vehicles, with refueling infrastructure a key challenge to NGV growth, according to a recent report from Pike Research LLC (see Daily GPI, Sept. 19).

Ashland Inc., a chemical company headquartered in Covington, KY, will install two natural gas boilers at its Ashland Hercules Water Technologies (AHWT) paper chemical plant near Franklin, VA. Plant manager Andy Chapman told the Tidewater News that the conversion from electric to natural gas-powered boilers will cost $5.7 million and will include the construction of a three-mile natural gas pipeline that could eventually be extended to supply the nearby Turner Tract industrial site. The conversion project is expected to be completed in May. Columbia Gas of Virginia will supply the facility with natural gas. Columbia spokesman Bob Innes told NGI that construction of a 6-inch diameter steel pipeline to AHWT was half complete and estimated that it would be finished in one month.

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