Potential Conversion to Natural Gas May Prove Expensive

Fairbanks faces major costs to convert to natural gas for space heating.  That was one of the messages from an Enstar gas official from Anchorage, in an address to the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. Whether natural gas comes to Fairbanks via truck or pipeline, Enstar spokesman John Sims says laying a web of distribution and service lines is a big undertaking.

Sims says local utility Fairbanks Natural Gas is already working on the issue, and the Borough has a state grant to study gas distribution.  Sims says Enstar customers can face substantial costs to hook up to gas depending on their proximity to existing distribution lines.

Sims says laying distribution is more expensive in established communities like Fairbanks, with existing infrastructure.

Sims says because the cost of distribution line extensions is incorporated into customer gas rates, consumers have to weigh the benefits of switching over.  He says how long it takes a customer to recover the investment, has to be weighed against the cost of heating with oil.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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