Spire Expansion Project to Bring Natural Gas Option to West Hattiesburg
A natural gas expansion project in Lamar County was marked with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday hosted by Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Dane Maxwell and representatives from Spire Inc., at Columbia Block and Brick.
The multiyear project will provide residents and businesses in West Hattiesburg with the option of natural gas service. Natural gas first became available in the Hattiesburg area in the 1920s, but areas in West Hattiesburg remained without access, Spire said in a news release.
The project, scheduled to begin this fall, received approval PSC approval on Oct. 19. Spire will construct a pipeline extending 2.7 miles westward along U.S. Highway 98.
“The project will provide access to nearly 2,500 residential customers,” Maxwell said in a Nov. 16 email. “The largest benefit for these new potential customers is that they will now have the option to use natural gas in their home as an extremely reliable and lower-cost option in comparison to other energy alternatives. There is also a convenience factor in that there is no refilling of tanks or maintenance the customer is responsible for.”
Maxwell said online billing, 24/7 customer service and payment plans will also be available.
The expansion will be a multiphase process. Maxwell said Phase 1 will construct the main line to support the rest of the expansion.
“Phase 1 will be completed and ready for new customers by Summer 2021,” Maxwell said. “Once the main is constructed, there will be subsequent Phases 2-5 to be completed by 2024.”
Chad Newell, president of the Area Development Partnership, said the expansion will encourage economic growth in Hattiesburg.
“Spire is a great corporate citizen here in Greater Hattiesburg,” Newell said. “The company’s westward expansion along U.S. 98 provides an opportunity for residents and businesses to access natural gas. Our utility allies are important in encouraging economic growth here in the region.”
Kyle Rogers, vice president of Spire Energy, said there are many advantages for residents and businesses to expanding access to natural gas.
“It’s got a cost advantage because you’re talking about a lower-cost fuel source,” Rogers said. “It’s more reliable and sustainable.”
Rogers said there are some disadvantages of propane that are not a concern with natural gas.
“When you have a pipeline to your house and natural gas can get to you as a residential customer 24/7, or if you can have a business where you’re not dependent on propane and volatility of price, you can kind of know what your price is and you know you have reliability by way of having access to that infrastructure,” Rogers said. “That’s everything to a business and certainly everything to a residential customer with respect to affordability, reliability and sustainability. It’s knowing you’re not going to have an interruption.”
Rogers said some businesses prefer to use natural gas, so not having access leads to lost opportunities for the city.
“You end up losing opportunities for economic growth,” Rogers said. “With natural gas, you’re advantaging the residential customers and advantaging the small commercial entities.”
Rogers said natural gas access in West Hattiesburg will attract industry and economic development.
The project, Rogers said, will be starting at the intersection of Old Highway 11 and Highway 98, moving westward and stopping at Country Road 589.
“The amount of construction as authorized by the commission is $2.5 million,” Rogers said.
Local residents and businesses are also looking forward to see the project’s completion.
“The increased demand for natural gas amenities such as, gas logs, outdoor kitchens, grills, gas ranges, and gas lanterns only compliments our business,” Columbia Block and Brick owner Adam Pittman said in a news release.