‘A Very Positive First Step’: Utility Co. Reopens Natural Gas Talks with Town, Officials Say

Town officials said Monday night that the utility company has restarted conversations about bringing natural gas to New Canaan—a three-year-old effort that stalled and finally broke down last summer in a finger-pointing squabble between the parties.

Yet Eversource has returned to the town “and said that they would like to present a new proposal and have a new discussion about bringing natural gas into New Canaan,” according to Utilities Commission Chairman Tom Tesluk.

“They are very conscious that a lot of discussion took place and went nowhere last time,” Tesluk said at the commission’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “I think they’re sincere in bringing a proposal to the town, so we’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with. But there are some obvious advantages to being able to have natural gas in New Canaan and I think it’s safe to say that most of us would welcome it if it can be done efficiently.”

Tesluk said members of the commission and Board of Selectmen met with Eversource officials recently. His comments came during a general update on new matters before the volunteer group (and as an increasing number of New Canaanites are turning toward a more environmentally friendly type of home heating oil).

Commission Secretary JoAnne Kennedy said she attended the meeting with Eversource.

“I found it to be a very positive first step,” she said.

Though it remains unclear just when a proposal will come and how quickly natural gas would come to New Canaan under it, Eversource “indicated a fast timeframe,” Kennedy said.

New Canaan was one of Eversource’s first prospective municipal “tenants” in the area, Kennedy said, and the company during its meeting with the town indicated that “they did not have a lot of experience under their belt” at the time. Since then, Eversource has worked more closely with towns such as Darien and Wilton, she said, and “they felt they sort of learned from some mistakes and now knew what towns are looking for.”

Part of that learning curve for Eversource, Kennedy said, was working with towns on their schedules for repaving roads so that installing gas lines is minimally disruptive and financially viable.

Commissioner Dan Welch asked whether Eversource still was looking for a way geographically into New Canaan from North Stamford—a plan that, at one time, envisioned natural gas lines running along Ponus Ridge to Jelliff Mill Road.

Tesluk said yes.

“I believe that they have sharpened their pencils a little bit and they are prepared to give us more of a concrete timeframe, which is obviously a good thing,” he said. “I can say that they are clearly interested in covering some of the major users in town such as schools and such as the Y, but we also discussed with them at that brief meeting that we need to be able to offer service to residents, particularly if they’re going through their neighborhoods, and I think we got a very encouraging response to that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *