Allie Martin

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Video: Public Service Commissioner Presley Asks Gas Companies To Draft Plans To Serve Underserved Areas

MONROE CO. Miss. (WCBI) — The state’s largest natural gas companies are being asked to file plans that could bring natural gas service to unserved areas throughout Mississippi. That request was made by Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley and as WCBI’s Allie Martin reports, there are residents in our viewing area who would like to have natural gas as an energy source.

Ann Harlow has been checking levels in her propane tank frequently. Harlow lives in an area off Bigbee Road, in Monroe County, that does not have access to natural gas. This colder than normal winter meant Harlow had to keep her tank full while emptying her wallet. In January alone she paid $600 for propane.

“Normally we use 400 gallons a winter, or maybe a little more, this winter we’ve almost used 700 gallons,” Harlow said.

About a quarter mile away from Ann Harlow’s house on Bigbee Road, natural gas is available to residences and businesses , it’s an option she and her neighbors would like to have. So Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley is sending letters to the CEOS of Atmos Energy and center Point Energy. He is asking the companies to file plans within 60 days that would look at the possibility providing natural gas to unserved areas.

“This winter, we’ve had more complaints in our office then I can remember in the past of customers wanting natural gas service, particularly in rural areas, but sometimes in cities and towns where maybe the gas lines simply aren’t there,” Presley said.

Presley points out that natural gas is cheaper than propane. Along with the savings, Harlow says access to natural gas would eliminate other worries.

“If you don’t keep a check on your tank and you run out then you have to have certain tests done on all your heating equipment, when they put propane in they have to test to make sure everything is ok and there are no leaks, so on and so forth, so that’s expensive,” Harlow said.

Harlow understands that the request by Commissioner Presley is a first step in what could be a long process, but she believes it would be worth the wait.

“People on a fixed income has a little problem paying $600 propane bills every month,” she said.

A spokesperson with Atmos Energy said the company would have a response to Presley’s request soon.