From Illinois Business Journal news services
Ameren Illinois crews broke ground this week on a first-of-its-kind project to convert residents in the Village of Grantfork from propane fuel to natural gas.
The project takes advantage of a revised main extension tariff developed by the company and approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission in December 2014 that makes it more affordable for propane and other fuel source customers to gain access to natural gas service.
Ameren Illinois in-house and contractor crews began construction on June 1 of approximately three miles of gas distribution main that will extend from Ameren Illinois’ existing gas line along Illinois Route 160 to Grantfork, as well as construction of additional gas mains and services that will run throughout the village.
About 122 customers in the Madison County community have signed up for the conversion thus far, and will be converting from a propane fuel source to natural gas service due to the convenience and savings natural gas offers.
“Many alternate fuel customers, particularly propane users, were feeling the pinch of high heating bills and low propane supplies following extreme weather in the winter of 2013-14,” said Richard J. Mark, president of Ameren Illinois. “That presented an opportunity for us to take a fresh look at our practices and make modifications that would help relieve the pressure felt by these customers.”
The work in Grantfork is made possible through revised standards and qualifications for gas service developed by Ameren Illinois in order to bring low cost natural gas to new customers. Key changes include:
Free main extension allowance
Increases the allowed footage for a main extension for qualifying customers from 200 feet to 400 feet. Customers are responsible for the cost of converting their appliances and for any additional service pipe or gas main.
Customer Extension Group
A new provision allows multiple residential or non-residential customers to join together under a Customer Extension Group to reduce the upfront costs to pay for a main extension. This allows the group to share equally in initial costs and any refunds. Previously, an extension agreement allowed for only one responsible party.
Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel that offers many advantages over propane and other fuels, Ameren said. Due to the abundance of natural gas supply coupled with relatively stable demand, Ameren Illinois customers have benefitted from the lower cost of natural gas, which has dropped by almost 35 percent – their lowest levels since 2002.
“Having grown up in the area and living in Grantfork for the past 14 years, I have seen the challenges that many of us face with price volatility and uneven supply that come from being served by an alternate fuel source,” said Village President Steven Brendel. “Expansion of natural gas service to the community is going to open doors for additional growth and development in the village. I have heard from several residents who predict they will save over $1,000 on fuel costs each year by converting.”
With natural gas being delivered through a system of underground piping, a customer never has to worry about running low on fuel, scheduling tank refills or maintaining storage tanks. According to the American Gas Association, natural gas supplies nearly one-fourth of all of the energy used in the United States.
“Ameren Illinois is continuously expanding and upgrading our energy delivery system to meet the needs of growing communities,” said Mark. “With this project, we will be able to provide customers in Grantfork with safe, reliable and affordable energy well into the future.”
For more information about Ameren Illinois natural gas conversion, visit ameren.com/convert-to-gas or call (888) 659-4540.