Oak Creek The town of Oak Creek will discuss the possibility of bringing natural gas to south Routt tonight, and all residents in the upper Yampa Valley are urged to attend.
Steve Shute, of Pipeline Solutions, will give a presentation on a proposition to extend natural gas lines into the south Routt County.
Oak Creek Mayor Deb VanGundy said the meeting will help the board to make an informed decision as to whether, as a municipality, it wants to own the lines.
Shute travels across the country to help communities get connected to natural gas.
"He's a one-man company," Tom Boyle said. "He knows what to do and he brings the people in to do it."
Boyle, who is a Stagecoach property owner, contacted Shute in 1995 about bringing natural gas to houses in the Stagecoach development.
Shute determined that there was not a large enough customer base to do the project commercially, but if a municipality would do it, the project would work. That's because a town could put in the infrastructure more cheaply than a private company, Boyle said.
Therefore, Oak Creek was contacted because it is the only municipality in south Routt that could take on such a project.
"Stagecoach is the key to this whole thing," Boyle said.
A Breckenridge man recently purchased land on the south side of the lake that has approval for a golf course. Boyle predicted that if the purchase leads to a course being built and the Stagecoach Ski Resort begins operation again, the community would grow and that would justify bringing in the lines.
Catamount also could benefit from the lines, he said.
In 1998, Shute did a feasibility study of putting in the natural gas to Stagecoach and the rest of south Routt.
The study showed that, in 1998, it would take $4.5 million to bring natural gas to the upper Yampa Valley. South Routt residents would have to pass a bond issue to cover that cost.
The town of Oak Creek would then own the lines, giving the town an additional source of revenue down the road.
The study also showed that it's cheaper to heat a house with natural gas than propane or electricity heat.
At that time, natural gas would have saved propane users an average of $300 a year and electricity users $500 a year. With the recent surge in fuel prices, those savings are likely not the same today.
But no comparison was done with coal. That's because coal is cheaper than natural gas and widely used in Oak Creek, County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
That brings up the issue of whether people in south Routt would even switch to natural gas if it was offered to them. People have been using coal to heat their homes for more than 100 years in south Routt and it isn't certain that they would change now, Stahoviak said.
The meeting is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Oak Creek Town Hall.
To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org