A Mountain Fuel Supply Co. official has predicted the company will become "very active" in soliciting franchises to supply natural gas in Millard and Beaver counties, if a local and economically feasible source for the product is available.

Speaking recently to mayors, county commissioners and other officials, the MFS vice president, Stephen Yeager, said Mountain Fuel officials have had a desire to provide gas services in the counties but that such a project has been too costly. It would probably become economically feasible for Mountain Fuel to secure gas from a line that may be built through the area.Two competing companies, Kern River and Wycal, have secured some rights of way in the hopes of obtaining permits to build a natural gas pipeline from southwestern Wyoming to Southern California. Such a project has been delayed through the federal regulatory process and is controversial, especially among residents in northern Utah where the proposed line would traverse.

Construction on the interstate pipeline could start this year or early in 1991, and gas may be available in south-central Utah from the line by late 1991 or early 1992.

Mountain Fuel would begin canvassing in Millard and Beaver counties once natural gas becomes available and it would be economically feasible to tap into a gas line, Yeager said. Eighty percent of the area's residences and businesses would be required to sign up for the service before the company could provide it.

Rates are expected to be similar to those charged in other southern Utah counties that have received the service in recent years.

A gas line was installed by Mountain Fuel from Indianola, Sanpete County, through Sevier and Iron counties into Washington County. Gas patrons are paying about 22 percent more than the price on the Wasatch Front, so such a cost would likely be billed to users for service in Millard and Beaver counties. The added cost helps defray expenses of bringing gas service into an area and will be deleted after 10 years.

Juab County is also seeking natural gas services. Officials in that county reportedly favor a municipal gas system.

The Central Utah Gas Co. of Nephi has non-exclusive franchises in Millard County and Delta, although it has not yet delivered any natural gas. It has been seeking franchises in Millard County.

Mountain Fuel Supply Co. obtained a permit from the Utah Public Service Commission to deliver gas to the south-central Utah counties that do not have natural gas service. But the Central Utah Gas Co. contends that permit expired Dec. 31, 1989, prompting that company to seek a permit. That issue has not been resolved, but officials believe it is unlikely that the PSC will issue permits for two competing companies to serve the area.