The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved a petition Sept. 1 to establish a gas line in the Diamond View Estates community off Diamond Ridge Road in Homer.
The neighborhood to this point primarily has been powered by oil and propane. Establishing a utility special assessment district will provide natural gas service to the residents of Diamond View Estates. More than half of the homeowners voted in favor, and the assembly voted unanimously to establish the district. The pipeline will cost approximately $236,602, according to the petition.
Enstar, an Anchorage-based natural gas company, holds the contract to build the gas line. Because the petition was presented and approved before the company’s indicated deadline of Sept. 8, the contractors plan to begin the project in 2015, according to the petition. Each resident will be responsible for a $4,181.89 payment as their contribution to the project.
Although 60 percent of Diamond View Estates residents approved the construction — 39 of 59 parcels voted in favor, according to the petition — there were some objections.
Finance committee chair Brent Johnson read a letter of objection from residents Larry and Patricia Pratt at the Sept. 1 assembly meeting. The Pratts wrote that the cost to the residents was too great, and because they are in their senior years on a fixed income, they cannot afford to pay for gas delivery they do not plan to use.
“Because of the people that want this gas line to come to their homes, we will be penalized and forced to pay this extravagant expense even though we will never live long enough to reap the benefits from it,” the letter read.
Another resident who voted in favor of the gas line, John Kuklis, testified at the meeting that the cost of natural gas will be significantly lower than the cost of purchasing propane or oil to power homes in the area. The expense of buying new appliances that use natural gas will only be once, and the savings from using natural gas will help pay back the value of the project in a relatively short amount of time, he said.
“The recoup period is not that long,” Kuklis said. “We pay $900 every six weeks for oil. Our house might be a little bit larger than some in the subdivision, but it’s not too far from typical. If it went down from $900 every six weeks to $300 every six weeks, that’s seven installments (of oil payments).”
Mako Haggerty, who represents the southern Kenai Peninsula, said he recognized the concerns voiced in the letter, but the borough is acting on behalf of the people in the area who voted in favor of the gas line.
“The letter seemed to indicate that (the expense) was something the government was doing to them,” Haggerty said. “That’s not the case. We are only acting as agents for the people in that neighborhood and providing service to the people that requested it.”
Elizabeth Earl is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.