Cost of gas line extension fuels need for second study

BGE estimates outlay could run to $5 million

September 17, 2001|By Jamie Manfuso | Jamie Manfuso,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Taneytown officials haven't given up on efforts to provide natural gas lines to the community to attract commercial and industrial development.

Estimates presented by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. put the cost of extending lines from Westminster to Taneytown's 230-acre industrial park at $4 million to $5 million - a figure higher than city officials anticipated.

City officials will seek estimates from other natural gas providers and are considering extending lines to new residential development.

"None of it looked good as far as money is concerned," Mayor Henry C. Heine Jr. said of the initial estimates. "I wouldn't consider the study to be a full study because they only used one source, which is BGE."

Without natural gas, Taneytown is deemed less attractive by businesses, city officials said, noting that natural gas is the cheapest means of providing heat.

"If you don't have gas, you're sort of written off their picture," Heine said.

Taneytown officials want a new study that gives estimates from other prospective suppliers and considers the cost of providing natural gas for planned residential developments.

Most of Taneytown's 5,000 residents use electric heat, which is more costly. But with plans for a golf course community, an age-restricted residential development and an apartment complex - about 700 housing units - city officials want to gauge the cost of extending gas lines to new residences.

Also, Taneytown's Main Street revitalization project might allow gas lines to be installed under city streets at the same time that the city buries its telephone and electric lines.

The Main Street revitalization would reduce the cost of extending the lines to Taneytown's center.

However, "It's always cheaper to lay gas lines in vacant land than in pre-developed land," said City Manager Patrick L. Nield.

The city hopes the savings provided by natural gas would attract businesses, such as light industrial and distribution companies.

"It's a nice ace to have in the hole," said Jack Gambatese, a member of Taneytown's economic development commission.

Taneytown officials must decide the scope of services needed before they commission a second study.

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