Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 8:48 PM on Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Better way to get gas to Homer: drill own wells

Point of View

By Stan welles

Ten years from now, see if this analysis isn't substantially correct. And I would emphasize that, yes, I would like very much to have natural gas and I believe there is a way to patiently obtain it at competitive prices with any of the, then, competitive heating energy sources.

But pushing the state to bring Enstar (single source, read monopoly) to town coupled with the cost of distribution (read your street assessment of your taxes) is not the way to do it. I submit that in 10 years it will be realized that the current proposed effort will have been an expensive waste of time.

Our Natural Gas Energy Task Force, during a radio interview, was asked "What should we do next?" Answer, encourage the city to:

• Propose a route structure;

• Determine "per foot" assessment costs to route the gas;

• Ask for a vote, a commitment, of the property owners, "Are you willing to pay this assessment for natural gas?"

My bet is that few will vote favorably if they would pencil it out.

Next, property owners, if you take the current "supposed" gas price and then amortize out the cost of the assessment, you can determine how many years it will take to where your heating expense equals your, then, current heating cost.

Then keep in mind that Enstar is the only act in town. They are a monopoly. Your gas price will not long stay at the introductory level. One should talk to other Enstar users. I haven't heard much that was favorable.

Personally, I don't believe many private owner gas assessment LIDs would receive a positive vote. I believe that by the time that your savings due to the difference in your gas costs and any other form of heat energy has paid your assessment costs, the price of gas heat will be a wash with the competing heat source.

Here is the alternative. We have natural gas. Why don't we become producers of natural gas?

Oh, I know it has been anathema to drill in Kachemak Bay. But here is a way to do it without any environmental problems. Put the drill rig over the ridge to the north and drill laterally under Kachemak Bay. The drilling company(s) will need pipelines to distribute the gas northward from Homer. Part of the negotiations to authorize the drilling would be:

• Gas; and

• Assistance with local distribution lines.

As a corollary, state wise, we are headed toward tight budgets; we should not be asking the state for anything. We should be doing for ourselves. I don't know what influence it may have had, but when Sean Parnell was here during campaign time, we talked about the gas line to Homer. I recommended that he veto it. I think he still should. This entitlement philosophy, this idea that someone else owes us this or that ends sooner or later. There is no free lunch. Let's encourage drilling our own gas.

Stan Welles is a longtime Homer resident.