The building department is asking home and business owners to submit 12 continuous months of their fuel usage. This will help Beacon Falls and Yankee Gas Co. determine if it makes sense to lay new gas lines, said Doug Colter, building official.
Beacon Falls currently has gas lines feeding into the Pinesbridge Commerce Park off Route 42 and two age-restricted developments, Chatfield Farms off Skokorat Road and Pond Spring Village at Pent and Lopus roads. It also has gas service in an isolated section in the north end, where condominiums on Beacon Valley Road are serviced by a line from Naugatuck.
The town started distributing a form Wednesday, kicking off a town-wide data collection.
Beacon Falls chiefly wants to explore this opportunity to boost its economic development, but it also wishes to give residents an opportunity to take advantage of lower rates to save on heating bills, Colter said. This would also benefit municipal government in lowering its heating costs, he said.
The town’s role would be an aggregator of information, Colter said. Rather than businesses and residents solely acting on their own, the town can bring attention to this project for them, Colter said.
By July 1, Beacon Falls hopes to make its case to Yankee Gas, Colter said.
The government has made it clear to utility companies that gas main extension is an immediate stimulus plan for construction, Colter said. Beacon Falls wishes to have a shovel-ready project to go if gas lines are extended in Connecticut, he said.
According to the 2013 Comprehensive Energy Strategy for Connecticut, conversion to natural gas promises a cheaper, cleaner and more reliable fuel for heating, power generation and transportation.
The strategy proposes to make gas available to as many as 300,000 additional Connecticut homes and businesses, beginning with about 217,000 customers who are on gas mains now but are not heating with gas, it states. It calls for several ways to accomplish this, including expanding natural gas pipeline capacity in the state to meet an anticipated rise in demand.
Beacon Falls has a lot of landlords that have tried to recruit businesses to town, Colter said. Once the businesses learn there’s not an option for natural gas, they’re lost to another town, he said.
First Selectman Gerard Smith recently announced at an economic development forum that Beacon Falls is looking into the option of bringing natural gas into town.
He said Friday natural gas has proved to be cheaper than oil. All town buildings currently operate on oil.
It’s won’t cost the town money to facilitate bringing this option to town, Smith said.
“I’m just hoping to make Beacon Falls more attractive to businesses,” Smith said. “Every little bit helps.”
Residents and businesses can submit one full calendar year of fuel usage to the Beacon Falls building department. A form is expected to be ready for pickup this week at the town clerk’s office or building department. It’s expected to be online soon at www.beaconfalls-ct.org.