ESSEX— Southern Connecticut Gas Company is planning an expansion of natural gas service from Westbrook in to the Centerbrook section in a $2.4 million project that could begin this year and would include Essex Elementary School, along with the Essex Meadows life care complex and the Lee Company on Bokum Road.
Representatives of the Orange-based company, a subsidiary of United Illuminating Co., held an informational meeting on the project Tuesday at the elementary school. About 15 residents turned out for the session, including First Selectman Norman Needleman, Selectman Joel Marzi, members of the local board of education, and Region 4 Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy. Needleman began discussions with representatives of the company about the possible expansion last year.
John Maziarz, an accounts manager for the gas company, said SCGC is ready to extend an existing natural gas main 29,300-feet north along Route 153 in to the Centerbrook section, and along Main Street to the elementary school. There would also be an extension along a section of Bokum Road to provide service to Lee Company and Essex Meadows.
The main currently ends at the intersection of Route 153 and Pettipaug Road in Westbrook. Maziarz said the company completed an expansion of service in Westbrook last year, including an extension of the main on a section of McVeigh Road to provide service to the Westbrook High School/Middle School complex. SCGC currently serves 178,000 customers in 23 towns between Bridgeport and Old Saybrook.
Maziarz said the cost of heating buildings with natural gas is currently about half the cost of heating the same structure with oil or propane. He said an analysis had determined that Essex Elementary School would save about $52,000 per year in heating costs by converting the school to natural gas.
Maziarz said the company is prepared to begin installation of the extended gas main this year if at least three “anchor customers” sign up for the service. He said the three key customers for the expansion project would be Lee Company, Essex Meadows, and the elementary school. He said Lee company has already committed to the service for its factory complex on Bokum Road. Service would be offered to all residential, commercial, and industrial customers on the expansion route if the project goes forward.