By BRIAN GRAVES
Chattanooga Gas will be seeking regulatory permission to extend the payback for gas service infrastructure to 10 years instead of the currently limited three year time frame.
Chattanooga Gas will be seeking regulatory permission to extend the payback for gas service infrastructure to 10 years, instead of the currently limited three-year time frame.
Doug Berry, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce vice president of economic development, discussed this newest part of the Spring Branch Industrial Park story during Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Industrial Development Board.
In the gathering, board members also learned earthwork at the industrial park is almost three-fourths completed.
“Fiber service, telecommunications and natural gas extensions are a little different than what we are accustomed to when it comes to working with our local utility,” he explained. “Those are all regulated into utilities which have conditions so they can make front-end investments in those extensions ... so both tend to wait until they get customers before they want to extend service into those areas.”
Berry said the board has been given a “wildly fluctuating budget” for natural gas ranging from $900,000 to $2.2 million “depending on the time we have spoken with the gas utility.”
He noted his concern that current Tennessee Regulatory Commission rules concerning natural gas utilities restrict them to a three-year reimbursement agreement.
“So, if we were to actually pay to extend that service, they would enter into an agreement with us that would provide us a ‘write-down’ of that investment or reimbursement of expenses associated with that investment we made on the front end for a limited period of time – only three years,” Berry said. “Given the scale and the potential expense of this, I don’t think that’s really an adequate amount of time for us to get a lot of recovery of our investment in the natural gas system.”
Berry said Chattanooga Gas will now be taking a request before the TRC that “is indicated as an economic development rider.”
“That would allow us to have a 10-year payback agreement with the utility if that gets approved,” he said. “It’s a pretty substantial step and should give us more comfort if we make those front-end expenditures for natural gas extensions. I think it would give us ample time to recover from our customers who tie in to the system as well as from the commercial development areas.”
“Things are moving along, although we have had a slow January and February because of the weather,” Berry said. “Most of February has been spent cleaning up after rainstorms and managing our erosion and sedimentation controls.”
“Unfortunately, we got an interval of rain that just about keeps us off the job site when it comes to earth-moving activities, which is our predominant work at this point in time,” he said.
He said 71 percent of the work has now been completed by the contractor, having now spent or having approved to spend $4,100,916 in payments to the contractor.
“In December, we paid $700,000. For the month of January, it was $130,000,” Berry explained as an example of how the work has been slowed down by weather over the past few months.
He said most of the work has involved three stream crossings for the sanitary sewer to serve two lots, and then make a final tie-in to the gravity sewer system.
“Creek volumes and weather conditions in those areas have prevented us from working on that,” Berry said, adding the pump station remains under construction.
He said the pad work is now approximately 54 percent completed with a total value of around $648,000.
“Looks good,” Berry said. “The major activities have been basically trying to get the site ready for stabilization and the finished components.”
The board also voted unanimously to re-elect its current board of officers, led by Chairman Ross Tarver.
“I want to tell everybody what a valued role everyone plays on this board,” Tarver said. “I appreciate the confidence you keep bestowing on me as your chairman. I take the role very seriously.”
“We’ve done some remarkable things since we organized this board,” he said. “Every team member here needs to give themselves a pat on the back, because we are continuing to accomplish great things for our community.”
Print subscribers have FREE access to clevelandbanner.com by registering HERE
Non-subscribers have limited monthly access to local stories, but have options to subscribe to print, web or electronic editions by clicking HERE
We are sorry but you have reached the maximum number of free local stories for this month. If you have a website account here, please click HERE to log in for continued access.
If you are a print subscriber but do not have an account here, click HERE to create a website account to gain unlimited free access.
Non-subscribers may gain access by subscribing to any of our print or electronic subscriptions HERE