Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:11 PM on Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Anchor Point takes steps to get natural gas flowing to residents

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


How can Anchor Point residents tap into natural gas being produced in their backyard and flowing north to Anchorage?

The answer may be as near as forming a Kenai Peninsula Borough Utility Special Assessment District, or USAD, to construct a natural gas main line, provided more than 70 percent of the 268 parcel owners within the proposed USAD boundaries sign a petition in agreement.

The petition application process was approved by the borough assembly at its July 5 meeting. There is a 30-day window to obtain the necessary signatures, with the countdown beginning once the first signature goes on the page. Brian and Janet Emard, Anchor Point residents and business owners, began distributing the petition packets last week.

The $723,410 project seeks to lay approximately 39,610 feet of gas line, with the borough providing the funds necessary to finance the USAD.

An equal assessment of each of the benefiting parcels results in an allocation of approximately $2,699.30 per parcel.

The cost is assessed in the form of a lien on the benefited parcels It is payable over 10 years or can be paid off at any time prior to the end of the 10 years.

The allocated amount includes the cost for Enstar to install the gas main line, with property owners responsible for any additional costs to connect to the line. Owners are encouraged to contact Enstar to determine additional cost, if any, not included in the assessment.

"I mailed out all of the out-of-state packets last week; I mailed out all of the in-state, out-of-town packets today; and we're making the packets for in-town residents available starting Wednesday (July 13) at the Anchor Point Visitor Center, noon-6 p.m. through Sunday," said Brian Emard. "After that, we'll take any remaining ones and we'll hand-deliver them ourselves to anyone that hasn't picked them up by that time."

Emard's goal is to get the packets into parcel-owners' hands at about the same time so the signature-gathering can be done as expeditiously as possible.

"I've encouraged people to pick up the packets as soon as possible and mail them back to us as soon as absolutely possible so we don't have any problems meeting this 30-day restriction," he said.

According to a chart provided by Enstar, the average homeowner uses approximately 130 ccf — hundred cubic feet — of natural gas a month for a cost of $127.37. If heating with fuel oil, that same homeowner would pay an estimated $316.41, $523.02 for electricity or $616.30 for propane. Those rates are based on average electrical rates in Southcentral Alaska and the average fuel and propane costs in the Kenai area, said John Sims, manager of corporate communications and customer service for Enstar.

Even though the Emards would have to make changes to their home and business in order to use natural gas, the cost will be worth the expense,

"I'm going to have to do some work, but I know the savings are substantial enough that it will pay for itself in less than five years," said Emard. "Everybody needs to look at the facts and do the math. I think there's a good argument to be made even for people with just a vacant lot. It's worth them voting for it just because of the increased value of the property that this will bring."

Kathy Kacher, owner of Aurora Taxes Accounting, located within the USAD boundary, agreed.

"(Property values) will go up at least the price of what the line is. How can you argue that? And it spreads (the allocation) over 10 years. It's now like you have to come up with the money up front," said Kacher.

Kacher encouraged parcel owners in the effected area to participate in the petition process.

"It's absolutely imperative that they do that," she said. "If they don't and it fails, then we're back to square one. It'll be another year, at least, by the time we get everything going again."

Once the required parcel-owner signatures are obtained, formation of the USAD goes back before the assembly for approval. If that approval can be secured by Sept. 6, "Enstar will attempt to construct the project in 2011 prior to freeze-up," wrote Charlie Pierce, Enstar's southern division operations manager, in a letter to the borough dated May 2.

If unforeseen factors, such as weather, delay completion of the project this year, Enstar has agreed to honor the 2011 construction charge and complete the installation in 2012.

For more information on the Anchor Point USAD, contact Brian Emard, 235-2130. For information from Enstar on costs to connect to the main gas line, contact Charlie Pierce, (907) 262-9334.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.