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SW Gas hearing

JOHN A. BAYLESS, Sierra Sun

Southwest Gas Corp is moving ahead with gas main installation in Tahoe Donner, and has completed more than half of the 100,000 feet of gas mains to be installed there by the end of this construction season, project manager Ron Bassler said.

Bassler urged customers within the construction area who are interested in scheduling natural gas service this summer to contact the company soon. He said time is of the essence due to the Town of Truckee’s paving schedule and the October 15 deadline for work imposed by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.

More than 500 requests for service have already been received, and customers have until Sept. 3 to add their names to the list.

Bassler said requests made after Labor Day will probably have to wait until next year. He said the summer work was planned in conjunction with the Town of Truckee’s paving schedulein Tahoe Donner, and that the construction work was divided into four zones, with gas main installation now in progress in the third zone.

“To date, Southwest appears to be on schedule for the work they said they would be completing, potentially sightly ahead of schedule,” Town Manager Steve Wright said. He said the town is pleased with the work effort Southwest has made this year.

Streets with completed mains in the first and second zones include Bern, Bernese, Zurich, Zermatt, Baden, Bolzano, Innsbruck, Heidi Way, Weisshorn, Ramshorn, and portions of Northwoods, Davos and Skislope Way.

“We’re going to do as much of north Tahoe Donner as we can, and keep moving north as far as we can go,” Bassler said. “Then we’ll come back when the snowmelt allows next year and resume work.” He said gas line installation on Skislope Way will probably halt this year around the intersection with Davos.

Bassler said the construction, which resumed May 24 following a settlement reached between Southwest and the town, is presently on schedule and on budget. The settlement, still pending approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, will be discussed during a public hearing scheduled Aug. 2, along with the company’s proposed merger with ONEOK, Inc. The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. at the Truckee-Donner Public Utility District boardroom. CPUC representatives will be on hand to hear public comments on the proposed merger as well as the company’s settlement with the town.

Southwest’s construction plans for the next four years include continuing main and service installations in portions of Tahoe Donner and extending natural gas to Prosser Lakeview and a small portion of Downtown Truckee in 2000; completing north Tahoe Donner, including the Skislope area and extending to Prosser Heights and Prosser Acreage in 2001, and commencing in Donner Lake in 2002 with main and services through 2003.

Bassler said weather, snow levels and other utility improvments such as the town’s future repaving plans will play an important role in scheduling.

Southwest will notify homeowners and businesses each year through mailings and maintains a toll-free number to provide customer information and service applications. The company will also continue to conduct free pre-conversion inspections, help subsidize permits by $50, provide standard conversion parts and convert appliances from propane free of charge. To contavt Southwest for service, call 1-800-654-2765.

The California Public Utilities Commission will conduct a public hearing Monday, Aug. 2, in Truckee on the joint application of Southwest Gas Corp. and ONEOK Inc. requesting approval of a merger.

In February, Southwest and ONEOK filed a joint application for a merger with the CPUC. If the request is approved, Southwest will merge into ONEOK. Southwest’s former operations will maintain their own identity as Southwest Gas divisions of ONEOK and will continue to serve their territories in California.

Representatives from ONEOK, Southwest and the CPUC’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates will be on hand to answer questions during the hearing, which will be conducted in the Truckee-Donner Public Utility District boardroom at 7 p.m.

CPUC Administrative Law Judge Orville Wright, who issued the initial opinion in February 1998 requiring Southwest to hold to the terms of its contract with Truckee, will also be present to answer questions from the public regarding the town’s settlement agreement with the gas company.

People wishing to participate in the public hearing or send comments to the CPUC should write to the Public Advisor’s Office at the following address:

California Public Utilities Commission

505 Van Ness Ave., Room 5305

San Francisco, CA 94102

Email: public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov


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