For over three years now, Marion Avenue resident Paul Vallier has watched as residents less than a quarter mile away have been able to use natural gas to heat their homes, saving nearly half as much on their heating costs.
Due to a lack of service options, however, Vallier has not had the same opportunity.
After several years of trying to encourage Yankee Gas to extend their service lines to his neighborhood, Vallier has been unable to convince the company it would be a profitable venture, both for the utility supplier and residents in the area, so he is now turning to the Southington Town Council for help – and officials are listening to his pleas.
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The Southington Town Council on Monday passed a resolution requesting that Yankee Gas look into expanding services in town, particularly to those along in the Marion Avenue and Wonx Spring Road area. The council can’t demand the lines be built, officials said, but assured residents they would do their best to have Yankee Gas explore whether it could be a beneficial business decision.
“I think that as a council, we should be looking at this globally. I think there are a lot of people who would really consider utilizing natural gas if it were available to them,” Councilman Peter Romano said.
Romano, who was previously a resident in the neighborhood Vallier lives in, said that Vallier is not alone in looking to receive natural gas. He also questioned whether this issue should be brought up for further discussion within the Public Works Committee.
Yankee Gas representatives could not immediately be reached for comment following Monday's council meeting.
The issue is not a new one, said John Dobbins, and the council has received numerous similar requests in recent years from residents across the community.
Vallier said there appears to be a definite need. He conducted a simple survey of eight streets – Marion Avenue, Old Mill Road, Wonx Spring Road, Roxbury Road, Knox Road, Hull Road, McArthur Drive and Sunnyridge Avenue – and found there is great support for such an expansion project.
“The families living in eight street section of Southington are of modest means. The area is equally as dense housing wise as where lines exist now and I think it’s a serious opportunity for Yankee Gas,” he said.
The problem is that the council, under deregulation, is unable to force the company to provide any services. The company has the right, and should, look into what would be the best business decision for Yankee Gas, officials said.
But that won’t stop officials from putting pressure on Yankee Gas to explore whether it could be a money-making venture for the company.
“The more emphasis we can place on it, the better,” said Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback said. “Having a plan for construction will make it a smarter business decision. Talking to them now about marrying long range plans can encourage them to have infrastructure throughout town and give citizens the choice.”
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