Maine Natural Gas, which is in heated competition with Summit Natural Gas to provide natural gas to the Augusta area, said Thursday that it has finished filling its 21.4 mile steel and plastic natural gas main, and expects to deliver gas to its first customers this week.
That line runs from the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline tap in Windsor through Augusta to the new regional hospital at the MaineGeneral Medical Center. Maine Natural Gas, headquartered in Brunswick, is a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, which also owns Central Maine Power Co.
The company started construction in March and spent the last two weeks testing, cleaning and purging the $23 million backbone.
"Since this is the first time natural gas is flowing in Augusta, MNG plans to spend time and effort to educate our customers, first responders, other utility workers and construction personnel about natural gas safety," Darrel Quimby, vice president of MNG, said in a prepared statement.
MNG has signed up more than 250 state, commercial and residential customers for Augusta-area natural gas delivery. Key accounts include MaineGeneral; the University of Maine at Augusta; the Blaine House; the state's east- and west-side campuses including the Cross office building, the Capitol building, the state library/museum, the east-side office facilities, and Riverview Psychiatric Hospital; the Edmund Muskie Federal Building; the Senator Inn and Spa; and Charlie's Motor Mall.
Quimby told Mainebiz earlier this year that he expects natural gas use to continue to grow in Maine. "We'll see a big sprint in the next two to three years as Waterville and Augusta have access to gas," he said.