Town: Huge Cost Savings Possible in Gas Pipeline

New Canaan is making strides in a plan to tap the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which could serve three town buildings right away, and possibly businesses and homes in the future.


Town officials are resurrecting a plan that could save taxpayers money on energy costs for three large town buildings by tapping an underground gas pipeline that runs the north-south length of the United States.

According to First Selectman Rob Mallozzi, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline could be tapped to run gas to South School, Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School, as well as two private buildings—New Canaan YMCA and Waveny Care Center.

“We can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in heating costs," Mallozzi said.

Once tapped, longer-term possibilities include running gas to downtown business and New Canaan homes, officials say.

Mallozzi said he has been studying the possibility for about three years, with New Canaan Fire Marshal Fred Baker and Assistant Director of Public Works Tiger Mann.

As of last week, the town’s responsibility for studying the project shifted to the Recreation Department, Mallozzi said. That’s because a “gate station” that would be needed to tap the line likely would be located on town property in Waveny. The gate station would house equipment to maintain the line and its main job would be to regulate the pressure coming from the main line, which would need to be greatly reduced to be usable, Baker said.

Recreation Director Steve Benko said one possible location for the approximately 20-by-40-foot station is a strip of land between Lapham Road and the platform tennis courts at Waveny (pictured).

“Looking north-south, it’s on a hill so you could probably dig down and put the unit there and all you’d see from Waveny is a one-story building, but you could hide it there,” Benko told Patch.

The project would need to clear a lot of hurdles in the heavily regulated utility industry.

According to Benko, Yankee Gas would need to come back and figure out which agency has territorial jurisdiction in Connecticut for such a project.

Baker said he and Assistant Fire Chief Jack Hennessey have looked into the project’s safety and are satisfied.

Once everything is lined up, the actual physical work of installing the gate station and tapping the line likely would take six months to one year, Baker said.

Michael Dinan February 01, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Fred: Thanks for circling back to this thread, much appreciated. -Mike
Greenhill February 02, 2013 at 04:35 PM
There is no argument regarding the spread between the price of home heating oil and natural gas. What I believe Fred Baker is failing to appreciate is the overall cost of the project on multiple ends. I have worked on large scale natural gas projects in the western U.S. for over 30 years and I believe Mr. Baker, with all due respect, is oversimplifying the costs associated with delivery and conversion. Before commencing with this project residents should know who bears the cost both in taxes and from converting existing systems which can be very expensive for many residents even in an affluent town. There has been no analysis I have seen as to cost effectiveness per resident, overall commercial and residential demand and cost break-down by resident, government and supplier. Laying lines so anyone can tie in is not necessarily a cost effective solution without knowing the true cost burden. I have seen this happen many times in communities that expected near-term relief and ROI in a "few years" and that is not always the case. The infrastructure expense is significant and complicated to set-up properly in the Northeast.
Kendall L Owott February 02, 2013 at 09:21 PM
There are a lot of things to consider. First, there is the cost. Second, roads may get torn up. While it is torn up, maybe somebody thinks it is a good idea to bury electric lines. The pipeline will go to town up a major road, probably, say the recently-paved Main Street. There is the cost to fix the road and the inconvenience. Residents who see a pipeline up Main Street may want gas on their street, so branch pipelines may have to be installed. There will be meetings, analyses, formation of pet project committees, etc., etc. People who live out of town will wonder why their taxes are going up. Financial experts will question the debt load if the expenses are bonded. If US companies export gas, demand will go up and so will price. Shale oil may drive prices down. This is not a project with no risk. In the meantime, what kind of boiler will be installed in Town Hall? Dual-fuel might be the most practical since nobody really knows what will happen and how long it will take to make decisions. Town government doesn’t have a strong engineering presence, in any event. Go online and see how much it would cost an average house to switch. Got a spare $5,000 to $15,000 lying around?
Michael Dinan February 04, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Hello to everyone interested in this topic. Just a heads-up that the Utilities Commission is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Discovery Room at the New Canaan Nature Center. (It’s in the Visitors Center, all the way down the driveway by the larger parking area.) One item on the meeting agenda reads: “Vote to approve recommendation to Parks & Rec for natural gas gate station as drafted by Scott Lashelle.” I’ll be attending the meeting tonight, so if there are any more specific questions you’d like addressed, let me know here in the this thread and I’ll see if I can get you answers. -MIke
Glen K Dunbar February 04, 2013 at 06:30 PM
IF we can tap into the TN (all the way there??) GREAT. I wonder if TN has the same weather nonsense we do here Ummmmm


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