Juab County commissioners and representatives from Levan, Mona and Nephi will meet to discuss firm figures before commissioners make a final decision on whether to provide natural gas service for county consumers.
Commissioners, including newly elected Commissioner Ike Lunt, all agree the time is right to get firm figures on costs."Let's all get together and come up with some solid figures," Commissioner Jim Garrett said.
Levan has already committed itself to participating with Nephi in the gas line. Mona still has to make a decision, though a preliminary study indicates at least 80 percent of those contacted would like the service.
Nephi is in a bit of a rush for a decision by the county. The city needs to have the final design completed before January.
"We can't just go with haphazard facts and figures," Lunt said.
Golden Mangelson, project manager for Nephi, and Nephi Mayor Robert Steele met with the county to discuss the proposed natural gas line. They had hoped, they said, that the county engineer would be on hand to discuss the matter. However, the engineer was busy in the western desert on road problems.
Garrett also wondered how the county could recoup the cost of putting in distribution lines for county customers.
"The county has almost as many customers as the two (Levan and Mona) towns do," Mangelson said. In addition, county customers, many of whom are farmers, would provide some leveling use for the system by using the fuel to power pumps to draw water from wells. The summer use would help level out the peaks that would occur if gas were only heavily used in the winter months.
Mangelson said the county could contract with the city to service the system. The contractor who builds the pipelines will also put in the distribution lines for those who sign up for the utility before the system is built, Mangelson said. Afterward, the county could contract with Nephi to lay lines for future customers.
The pipeline will be expensive but the distribution lines are built of plastic pipe and will not be as expensive, Mangelson said.
The Interlocal Cooperative Act is the best available legal means for the cities and counties to participate.
"If you have 100 customers (in the county) and if each customer saves at least $100 by using less electricity, then that's $10,000 put back in the pocket of the people," Steele said.
Many of the county residents pay $300 to $400 per month in electricity bills, Steele said.
Mangelson agreed electricity bills should be cut in half for many of the county residents. "That alone will be a boon to the economy," he said.
The county will need to come up with $600,000 as its share of the pipeline. "The county would get the distribution for the same price," Mangelson said.
The city and county will need Public Service Commission approval, and the county will need to go with Nephi city officials to the Public Service Commission if county officials decide to participate.
The county would make a profit on the utility which, in turn, would go into the county budget and could lower property taxes for all residents, including those in Eureka. Eureka is too far away to participate in Nephi's natural gas proposal.
County commissioners will need to decide how to pay for the county's share of the pipeline. Depending on the type of bonding and the actual bond amount, the county could begin making money after three years and still save consumers money. If money could be planned into the budget to make contributions above the cost of the bonds, the county would save money, officials said.