2016-06-16 / News

Officials celebrate arrival of natural gas in Saco

Unitil, the largest natural gas provider in Maine, celebrated the expansion of natural gas services to commercial and residential customers in Saco with a ribbon-cutting Monday, June 13. Unitil began construction on its Targeted Area Buildout (TAB) program earlier this spring following approval by the Maine Public Utilities Commission. City officials and local business leaders joined Unitil at First Parish Congregational Church to activate the first new customer service.

“Our growing community will benefit from access to natural gas services,” said Mayor Roland Michaud in a press release. “Not only will more of our current residents and businesses have the opportunity for this affordable heating option, but we are confident that it will help attract new businesses to Saco.”

The program is the first of its kind in the state. By removing the up-front cost to customers for the expansion, Unitil’s TAB project lowers the barrier for conversion and gives more customers in Saco the opportunity to switch to a different heating option. Approximately 1,000 new homes and businesses in Saco will have access to natural gas for the first time.

“We’re impressed with the extensive coordination that goes into expanding an underground utilities network like natural gas,” said Craig Pendleton, executive director of the Biddeford and Saco Chamber of Commerce. “Unitil has worked diligently to ensure the project goes smoothly. The impact on traffic and local businesses has been minimal even during one of the busiest times of year.”

Because of their geographic location relative to the expansion, two of the first new services to connect as part of the expansion are the First Parish Congregational Church and the residence of Saco City Administrator Kevin Sutherland.

“Like many organizations in the area, the First Parish Congregational Church is regularly looking for ways to control costs through energy efficiency,” said Rick Campbell, moderator at the church. “Natural gas gives us the ability to be smarter about our energy costs.”

“As a resident, I’m thrilled to have access to natural gas,” Sutherland added. “Natural gas is not only a less expensive heating option for my home, but I look forward to the convenience and reliability it offers.”

Unitil sees the Saco expansion as a pilot and would consider similar expansion programs in other parts of the state based on its overall success in bringing new customers online. The multiyear project is currently underway along parts of Route 1 and Industrial Parkway.

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