Natural gas expected to Houston by summer

A natural gas firm that serves portions of southwest Missouri plans to offer service in Houston by summer, officials with Southern Missouri Natural Gas announced this week.

The company, which already serves about 8,000 residential, business and industrial users in an area primarily along U.S. 60, said it is awaiting final approval from the Missouri Department of Transportation for a line along U.S. 63 from Cabool to Houston. Michael J. Lewis, senior vice president, engineering and operations, said the company is seeking approval for an additional two feet of right-of-way corridor along the roadway. Other regulatory hurdles have already been cleared.

Some preliminary clearing may start soon for the six-inch line that will extend to Holder Drive in Houston. Much of the trenching work will occur on the east side of U.S. 63, but some cross over to the west side may also occur.

Once inside the corporation limits of Houston, work crews will begin installing a four-inch loop around the city. Large industrial customers are expected to be connected first, including the Durham Co. at the Houston Industrial Park and Texas County Memorial Hospital on South Sam Houston Blvd.

Ron Reed, Houston’s economic developer, said several large users are anxious to receive the service. He said it also will help industrial development efforts for those firms that need access to natural gas service.

If all goes as planned, service would begin by early summer throughout the city. The company has several other projects on its plate, including extending service to the cities of Lebanon, Branson and Hollister.

Michael Lumby, general manager for the company’s operations that are based at Mountain Grove, said homeowners wanting natural gas service will receive up to 40 feet of piping free and installation of three appliances. Late last week, the price for 100 cubic feet of natural gas – which he said is the equivalent to a gallon of propane – was $1.16. The Missouri Public Service Commission regulates the price, which is slated to be 1.107 on March 1.

Linda Moore, human resource manager and customer care manager, said a series of public meetings are planned for residents in each of the city’s three wards.

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