Lake County Commissioner Dan Shoun recently responded to recent questions by local residents regarding the potential for the availability of residential natural gas.
During the Commissioners’ Tuesday, March 18, work session, Shoun responded to questions that arose at community meetings related to air quality on the subject.
The questions raised at those meetings, held earlier in February and March, respectively, insinuated that the Town and County had not exercised any foresight in utilizing the Ruby Pipeline resource locally.
When the Ruby natural gas pipeline was constructed between 2010 and 2011, the Commissioners ensured that a tap was installed that would allow for local future development, Shoun said. The pipeline is located within 3 to 4 miles of the Town of Lakeview, but was constructed as a transmission line and not a utility line.
Neither the Town of Lakeview nor Lake County municipal government agencies are licensed utility providers, Shoun said. In order for natural gas to become available for local residential use, a private investor would be necessary for such a development, he said.
At the time the Ruby Pipeline was constructed and became functional, conversations took place with the service provider Avista, said Commissioner Brad Winters. A residential development did not pencil out as economically feasible for the firm, he said, due to their requirements for a three-year payback on their investment.
Costs of developing residential natural gas locally would be a substantial figure, Winters said, in light of the costs related to installing gas lines under area streets and sidewalks.
“This isn’t the Field of Dreams,” Shoun said. “We can’t claim if we build it, they will sign up… if it were feasible to do, Avista would have done it.”
At present, there are two industrial firms that have expressed interest in implementation of natural gas for their use. Cornerstone Industrial Minerals, Inc., is an existing perlite mining company, while Red Rock Biofuels is currently considering Lakeview as a potential site.
Winters said that the hope is to negotiate sufficient capacity for Red Rock Biofuels’ proposed plant and gas line to allow for other usage in the community.