Town, Eversource To Ink Deal Bringing Natural Gas to New Canaan Starting Next Year

The town’s highest elected official on Monday night said he’s poised to sign an agreement that will bring natural gas to New Canaan public buildings, businesses and some homes, signaling the introduction in earnest of a widely anticipated energy source following years of stop-and-go efforts.

First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and representatives from Eversource unveiled a plan to bring a 4.7 mile “trunk line” up Route 106 from Stamford to serve New Canaan High School, South School, Saxe Middle School, the YMCA and Waveny Care Center, as well as East School, in 2018.

After that, Eversource’s program manager for gas expansions, Chris Luca, told members of the Utilities Commission at their regular meeting, the company in 2019 will lay an additional five miles of lines to bring natural gas to residences along the South Avenue corridor, from Farm Road toward the downtown. Additionally, Eversource will offer natural gas to residences where it makes sense along the route to East School—the proposed route calls for a line to run down Harrison and then up Main and along Lakeview to the school.

And then in 2020, the natural gas line build-out will come to the business district, Luca said.

According to Mallozzi, during talks with Eversource that re-started in March, the utility proposed a wider proliferation of natural gas in New Canaan than what had been discussed in scuttled talks from past years.

“That was one thing that was very encouraging when we were sitting down with these folks, was to see the breadth of their expansion was greater than when we spoke in 2013, ’14, ’15,” Mallozzi told members of the Utilities Commission at their regular meeting, held in Town Hall. A handful of representatives from Eversource attended.

“It gave me encouragement that they were going to absolutely have a better chance of getting to the downtown and some of the neighborhoods closer to our [downtown] because they were extending their initial line that much farther,” Mallozzi said.

The commission voted 4-0 in support of a Memorandum of Understanding that is to be signed at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting. Chairman Tom Tesluk, Secretary JoAnne Kennedy, Dan Welch and Bob Clay voted in favor of the measure. Commissioners Derek Bennett and Wade Eyerly were absent.

Luca said that Eversource now has 25 years—rather than 15, as in the past—to recover capital expenses it incurs by installing the infrastructure needed for natural gas expansions. In working with towns throughout the state, Luca said, Eversource has “done many things on our end” to reduce costs, including “streamlined processed on the construction side of the equation.”

“Fortunately between Rob [Mallozzi] and [Department of Public Works Director] Tiger [Mann], we have gotten to a great space where we believe that the cost profile has less risk based on their conceptions,” Luca said. “And let me assure you it is not the town’s folks at risk in any way—in fact, the tax revenue generated makes this tax-flow-positive for the town, not to mention the savings in fuel savings. So we are excited. We really are. We have been doing this for some time now and we’re very confident.”

Asked by Tesluk whether Eversource by the end of 2018 expects to have the large buildings in service or just lines close to them, Luca said “lines in front of them.”

The utility still needs to have conversations with the Board of Education, YMCA and Waveny Care Center, he said.

The residential neighborhoods will come in as a separate project working off of the main “trunk” line, Luca said.

“The economics still need to work for the neighborhood project,” he said.

“In the past, it was treated as a single relationship between the gas company and the end user. In this case we are able to pool everybody up to one project. So we are able to take the revenue from all the homes and layer it up into one project such that it offsets the capital costs. But there is a certain level subscription we need.”

The plans mark a major step forward for the prospect of natural gas in New Canaan.

Members of the Utilities Commission in April disclosed that Eversource had restarted conversations about bringing natural gas to New Canaan—a tantalizing development for many who have wanted the energy source for the town.

Representatives from utility and town officials have presented different versions of events in the past, though renewed efforts to bring natural gas to New Canaan—after plans had stalled through a period of three-plus years—have been marked by a spirit of cooperation.

Mallozzi noted that talks in the past “went off and on” and were “sometimes fruitful and sometimes not,” and said that talks re-started after officials last year raised the possibility of bringing propane into the public schools.

Since March, the team at Eversource has been “incredibly responsive” to New Canaan’s leaders, Mallozzi said.

“They totally seemed to understand our concerns,” he said. “I think the fact that you folks had some history behind you and had done a bunch of these projects was really to our benefit. I think when we first started talking we would have been, quite frankly, the guinea pig for the gas company. And they had it all buttoned up.”

Commissioners asked about the feasibility of getting natural gas to downtown New Canaan (there are some hurdles with any individual property owners involved but those conversations will start well ahead of 2020), what would limit residential access off of the trunk line (density of homes as well as customer interest), just where the lines will run (in the roadway because many residences have Belgian block and other special-made driveways), whether conduit would be laid simultaneously (no, because that just creates space for gas travel in the event of a leak) and what is Eversource’s marketing strategy to prospective homes (a community forum).

Mallozzi said the Utilities Commission likely would help organize a public forum for Eversource to explain its installation strategy and kickstart communications with those homeowners and commercial property owners for whom natural gas will be an option and who are interested in getting it.

11 thoughts on “Town, Eversource To Ink Deal Bringing Natural Gas to New Canaan Starting Next Year

    • Seth, I’ve embedded a map at the bottom of the article. The only things that are a bit off are:

      1. Eversource last night talked about coming down Harrison—not Oak—to get from South Avenue to Main Street and, ultimately, East School. (When I make the update to the route on Google Maps, it doesn’t carry over into the embeddable map.)

      2. Eversource will also continue down South Avenue toward the center of town and bring natural gas there, including to Forest Street.

      Reference was made at the Utilities Commission to a deck of slides that included route maps, and I’ll circle back here with more specifics once I get my hands on them.

  1. It’s about time this happened. The Town of Wilton and Yankee Gas reached an agreement back in July of 2014 and have been reaping the benefits of cheaper and cleaner energy for three years already. Our Town leaders should have made this happen sooner!

  2. This is kind of a misleading — Rob or Kevin have really
    nothing to harp about — this seem to be a replay of
    of 2013,2014 and 2015 — with dates of completion
    to 2019 and 2020 — today is 2017 — I am sure there is escape
    options for the gas company — sorry not a believer yet

  3. Bravo to KEVIN MOYNIHAN for getting Ever Source to come back and open the discussion for this resource. I really hope Mr. Mallozzi doesn’t new start taking credit for this, like he did at the Saxe expansion Ground Breaking. Everyone should really learn how this meeting came about last night. It’s too bad Rob failed to facilitate this over the past 4 years. Time for a change!

    • What in the world makes you think Moynihan had anything to do with this? Why would he spend nearly $3,000 to place a full-page ad in the local paper about this very issue if he had any idea it this deal was going to be done?

      You’re lauding an achievement that he did not make and, it seems to me, deliberately trying to mislead people into thinking our current First Selectman was holding this deal back. Are you in this just to get a rise out of people or do you genuinely think that Moynihan singlehandedly made this deal happen? Because that’s not how government works, not at the local, state, or federal level.

      And since I’m clearing up some facts for you here (I’m assuming you’re a Republican as you were quite invested in the Town Council elections two years ago), Moynihan has not once, to my knowledge, voted against spending taxpayer money. Speaking as a Republican myself, fiscal responsibility is a fundamental key to the party’s existence, yet it seemed Moynihan just wanted to spend, spend, and spend more. And people wonder why taxes go up… It’s because of people like Moynihan.

      But I’ve gotten off topic. Back to my main point. Moynihan shouldn’t receive a single ounce of credit for something he did not do. It’s that simple. I do not understand why so many people are grasping at straws here, trying to claim Moynihan accomplished something that he simply did not. Is it because he actually accomplished nothing?

      • To clarify, as it seems your reading comprehension is a bit off, what I stated was that he was responsible for getting Ever Source back to the negotiating table, and without that, this deal would not be happening.

        As far as a vested interest, I have nothing personal in this except to help support a person who I think would do a much better job for this town than the current First Selectman. We are all entitled to our opinion. I want what’s best for the town.

        And I always stick to facts. I would never ever state something like I did above if it weren’t true.

        And where did I say that Rob deliberately held this back? Please do not put fake words into my mouth. rob failed to make this deal happen in 2014 and 15, that is an indisputable fact. Deliberate? Never said what his intent was, just pointing out his failure to do so, which I am sure you know is a fact.
        Please be careful how you read my factual statement, it’s fact and not open for interpretation. I never ever stated Rob’s intent, only his failure

  4. the anticipation is building for tomorrow nights debate !!!!!
    who will come out on top — make sure you are there
    if not a must watch event on ch79

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