CNG begins largest natural gas expansion project in 30 years

Associated Press

Connecticut Natural Gas announced Thursday it has begun construction on a 10-mile natural gas expansion project in East Hampton.

EAST HAMPTON, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Natural Gas announced Thursday it has begun construction on a 10-mile natural gas expansion project in East Hampton, the company's largest such project in 30 years.

The gas main will serve nine East Hampton schools and municipal buildings, will reach major businesses and make natural gas an option for more than 400 residential and commercial customers, the subsidiary of UIL Holdings Corp. said.

A state energy policy adopted in 2013 by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature authorized Connecticut regulators to approve new rate plans to finance expansion of natural gas. Family-owned oil dealers opposed the measure, saying state policy favored utilities.

Before the new policy was enacted, rules to expand natural gas lines were "very, very strict," said Anthony Marone, senior vice president of customer and business services at UIL Holdings.

Costs to connect each natural gas project had to be paid for to avoid forcing customers already online from bearing a financial burden, he said. The 2013 legislation "lowers the bar a little bit" by allowing utilities to not have all the revenue at the start of the project, Marone said.

A referendum in Deep River last week approved a gas expansion plan and Southern Connecticut Gas Co., another unit of UIL Holdings, will begin a 3-mile expansion project this year, Marone said.

Eversource Energy, formerly Yankee Gas, completed its first large-scale natural gas expansion project in Wilton last year, a spokesman said. The 3.5-mile pipeline connects the downtown business district, municipal buildings, schools and a community center.

Eversource connected more than 5,5000 customers to natural gas in 2014 and added about 20 miles of gas main.

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