The Mount Airy Town Council last night agreed to introduce an ordinance next month that would allow Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to install natural gas lines and offer gas service within town limits.
BG&E officials formally asked the council to introduce an ordinance that would grant the company a natural gas franchise.
Council members said they want public comment and would require the company agree to supply all Mount Airy residents, not just new construction and high-density areas.
"We need to go into a public forum," said Councilman Marcum N. Nance.
The council will schedule a public hearing on the ordinance this fall. Approval could come by October, and BG&E officials said natural gas could be available by January.
Frank Wanken, a BG&E corporate affairs representative, said Mount Airy service would be a $1 million investment for the
Mount Airy is not served by any natural gas lines. A franchise would permit BG&E to lay gas lines and offer its services within town limits, but would not be an exclusive franchise, town and company officials said.
BG&E has a franchise agreement to serve Carroll County and a limited agreement with Frederick County, to provide gas only to property owners along a pipeline that crosses the counties. Mount Airy straddles the Carroll-Frederick border.
Company officials asked for the franchise last month, but council members voiced concern about the safety of natural gas and the use of plastic pipes.
Since then, BG&E officials have met with town officials to discuss safety concerns and to show them the plastic pipes and how they are connected. Company officials said that they buy only the best plastic and noted that they recently laid plastic lines along Westminster's East Main Street, which is under reconstruction.
BG&E's marketing surveys have shown that restaurants and businesses are interested in using natural gas for heat and cooking, company officials said. But they said they didn't know how many customers the company would gain with the franchise.
The last municipal franchise granted to the company was in Manchester in 1965. Most municipal agreements were written in the 1920s and 1930s, company officials said.
BG&E has 525,000 gas customers in the metropolitan Baltimore area and in Prince George's and Montgomery counties.