Workers with Chumley’s General Contractors lay and weld pipe near Mile 166 Sterling Highway several miles north of Diamond Ridge Road as part of construction of a trunk line to bring gas from Anchor Point to Homer and Kachemak City.-Photo by Michael Armstrong, Homer News

Workers with Chumley’s General Contractors lay and weld pipe near Mile 166 Sterling Highway several miles north of Diamond Ridge Road as part of construction of a trunk line to bring gas from Anchor Point to Homer and Kachemak City.-Photo by Michael Armstrong, Homer News

Gas project contracts being awarded

Answers for who is doing what in the project to get natural gas from Anchor Point to Homer and Kachemak City are becoming clear with the awards of contracts by Enstar Natural Gas.

Geovera LLC of Homer has been selected by Enstar to survey for distribution lines in both locations, a total of 44 miles, according to Geovera owner Steve Smith.

“This represents maybe eight weeks of work for us with one crew,” said Smith. “Depending on the needs, if we need to be in two places at once, we’ll put on as many crews as they need.”

Survey stakes will be placed on the edge of the right of way and the property line, with the actual gas line five feet inside the right of way.

Construction of the Kachemak City 49,000-foot distribution system has been awarded to Clark Management, owned by Tom Clark of Anchor Point. 

“We will probably have about 12 people on the job site all the time,” said Clark who anticipates beginning the work “as soon as the weather lets us.”

Bid deadline for construction of the Homer distribution system was March 29. 

“We received numerous bids and are still in the process of vetting them,” said John Sims, manager of Enstar’s corporate communications and customer service. “Hopefully we’ll be making a decision by the end of the week, possibly early next week. There’s a bit of back-and-forth with the perspective winning bidder to iron out the final things of the contract.” 

Carey Meyer, public works director for the city of Homer, said a meeting between the city and Enstar was planned for this week.

“I think the whole communities is waiting,” said Meyer of information about the project’s progress.

With the project gaining momentum, Meyer said the city is preparing to hire three to four inspectors.

“They won’t need to know everything there is to know about gas lines, but (the city) is providing oversight to make sure the line is going in the proper location in each neighborhood,” said Meyer of supervising work within the right-of-way. “We’ll probably act as a little bit of a referee amongst the utilities to minimize conflict.”

How many personnel will be needed will become clearer after the construction work is awarded.

“That’s one of the things we’re waiting to hear from the contractor, whether the work will be spread uniformly throughout the year or if there will be more crews working, but only in the summertime,” said Meyer.

A trunk line will deliver natural gas to Homer and Kachemak City from Anchor Point along the old Sterling Highway, Sterling Highway, up West Hill Road to Fairview Avenue, continue through Homer on Fairview and connect with East End Road. As of March 31, approximately 60 percent of the eight-mile right of way along the Old Sterling had been cleared and approximately 75 percent from the Old Sterling-Sterling Highway intersection south. The route south of Rogers Loop Road is still to be completed. 

Meyer noted the difference between clearing for the trunk line and distribution lines.

“There’s a 200-foot wide right-of-way where I know the Department of Transportation wants them as far away from the road as possible, so the amount of devastation is a little more significant than you’ll see here in town,” said Meyer. “The average person might think that’s what will happen in front of their house, but it will be a much more refined corridor here in town. … We’re working on a 60-foot right of way and that’s quite a bit narrower.” 

Kachemak City has offered a $500 a rebate to property owners that apply for service early. Mayor Phil Morris said about a dozen people have taken advantage of that offer to date.

“We sent out a letter a couple days ago basically saying anyone interested in natural gas service needs to get to Enstar and sign up. After signing up and paying their money, they can come to Kachemak City with their receipt and we’ll reimburse them,” said Morris. 

The 2013 rate for the first 100 feet of service line is $1,290 with an additional $2 for every additional linear foot. 

Upcoming dates for the project include:

• April 5: award of contract for construction of the Homer distribution system;

• April 15-May 1:  Begin operator qualification training to ensure safety of pipe installation;

• May 1: City of Homer to give Enstar notice to proceed;

• May 15: Construction begins;

• June 1: Complete an application for a Homer area service line by this date and be entered to win a new Weber natural gas drill, drawing will be July 1;

• Pre-July 1: Deadline for property owners to apply for service with Enstar in order to be guaranteed service during the first phase of the project this year.

• Post-July 1: Property owners signing up after July 1 may receive service this year, depending on the weather, but should anticipate receiving it during the second phase of the project in 2014. 

• Oct. 30: Completion of distribution mains.

Other dates to note are:

• April 19: A grilling fair at Kachemak Community Center from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Enstar representatives will be on hand to answer questions. 

• June 27: Enstar’s plumbing and heating code meeting at Best Western Bidarka Inn, 1-3 p.m. 

“We’ve had two of these in the past and they’re really good for homeowners so they can understand what’s involved,” said Sims of converting to natural gas. “It’s not designed to be a certification meeting or that sort of thing. It’s a very 10,000-foot view of what needs to be considered.”

For more information, visit www.enstarnaturalgas.com, call 435-0635 or stop by Enstar’s Homer office at 345 Sterling Highway, Suite 104.

“We’re trying our best to be there between 8 a.m.-5 p.m., but sometimes have off-site meetings with a business or someone converting to natural gas,” said Sims. 

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

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