Natural Gas Have Your Say
by Stephen Miller
photos courtesy of Southwest Gas
The City of Mesquite, in collaboration with Mesquite Regional Business, Inc. and Southwest Gas Corporation (Southwest Gas or Company), is exploring the possibility of expanding natural gas service to the city. Business owners and residents of the city are encouraged to complete a brief survey at www.mesquitenv.gov/ng to determine the level of interest and potential uses of natural gas in Mesquite. A paper copy of the survey is also available at City Hall, located at 10 E. Mesquite Blvd. during normal business hours. Residents who own a home and business in Mesquite may take the survey for each location to capture information for each.
The natural gas initiative comes with the passage of Senate Bill 151 (SB 151), which authorizes Southwest Gas to explore the opportunity to expand its infrastructure to unserved or underserved areas of Nevada in a manner that is consistent with a program of economic development. Upon the passage of SB 151, the City of Mesquite and Southwest Gas developed the survey to gather information to determine the level of interest and demand for natural gas service in the Mesquite area. Data from the survey will be used to evaluate the feasibility of extending natural gas service to the city and developing the associated cost estimate. The information being gathered will not only help Southwest Gas to develop a recommended design for how the Company would expand natural gas service to Mesquite, it will provide information that is required for the application that the Company is required to file with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN or Commission) to seek approval for the expansion. Southwest Gas will also conduct a thorough assessment of the potential uses of natural gas in the area and its economic impact.
Extending natural gas pipelines and other infrastructure to Mesquite will make the area more attractive
to new industrial and commercial industries looking to establish or relocate their operations, increasing job opportunities and bolstering the economy. Natural gas is a key element for the manufacturing industry and is required for a variety of applications, including manufacturing metal, paper, plastic, glass, and food.
“We’re always looking for ways to boost our city’s economic growth, and adding natural gas as an energy option would be the most significant improvement we’ve seen in quite some time,” says Mayor Allan Litman. “But before we have that opportunity, we need to hear from everyone who lives here, works here, and owns businesses here. The community’s input and commitment to economic development is vital to provide us data we need [in order] to consider moving forward with this project.”
Previous efforts to bring natural gas to Mesquite have been unsuccessful under Southwest Gas’ existing tariffs due to the large up-front financial investments that were required. SB 151 allows the Company to propose, and the PUCN to consider, alternate methods of cost recovery based on the project’s circumstances – flexibility that hasn’t previously been available to the Company or the Commission.
“Bringing natural gas to Mesquite has been our goal for more than a decade,” says Justin Brown, Vice President of Regulation and Public Affairs at Southwest Gas. “Since SB 151 passed, we now have the opportunity to use the city’s natural gas survey as our first step to help gauge interest in the community and begin developing a proposal to expand the Company’s infrastructure.”
The third partner in this effort is Mesquite Regional Business, Inc. (MRBI), a nonprofit organization that implements economic development programs in the Virgin and Moapa Valleys. President and CEO of MRBI, George Gault, says, “The prospect of having natural gas in Mesquite opens the door to so much potential growth. In the past, businesses have decided against moving or expanding their operations to the city because natural gas wasn’t an option. Offering this energy source invites a greater number of industries to call Mesquite home, which is a win-win for everyone.”
Natural gas offers many advantages, and businesses of all sizes benefit from the dependability and convenience of this clean, efficient, and abundant energy source. Economically, using natural gas is less expensive than electricity, propane, and heating oil. According to
ENERGY STAR®, a commercial building’s energy use accounts for nearly 30 percent of operating costs. Businesses that use natural gas see improved building operations with reduced maintenance costs. Southwest Gas also offers rebates to businesses that purchases natural gas appliances and equipment.
In the home, natural gas use leads to lower energy bills while being a reliable energy source for home heating, water heating, cooking, and clothes drying. The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that, on average, electricity costs three times more than natural gas. The cost of drying two loads of laundry in a natural gas dryer is the same as drying one load using electric. Natural gas water heaters cost less than half to operate versus electric water heaters. Natural gas also gives residents a variety of options for outdoor amenities. An increasing trend nationwide is the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, and in-home refueling stations are available to homes that have natural gas.
If you want to have your say on natural gas coming to Mesquite, the survey will be live on the city website until an acceptable amount of responses are collected. In addition to the survey, the City of Mesquite in collaboration with Southwest Gas, will be holding public meetings for residents and business owners to discuss the viability of adding natural gas service to the area. Dates for those meetings can be found on the city’s website, www.mesquitenv.gov, when they become available.