Town Council approves 12-month extension with Southwest Gas

At its Tuesday meeting, Truckee Town Council unanimously approved of a 12-month extension with Southwest Gas.

Truckee and Southwest Gas are currently parties to a franchise agreement that commenced in 1996 and was set to expire May 2.

The possibility of switching to another provider, according to town staff, comes with a number of caveats, including Southwest Gas’ ownership of the system that is installed in Truckee. A different operator would have to negotiate to purchase the system, likely resulting in an increase for ratepayers.

While both parties expressed interest in continuing their partnership, the topic of greenhouse gas emissions was prominent throughout the meeting, being brought up consistently by council members and during public comment.

To work toward reducing its carbon footprint, Southwest Gas is currently working with the national firm Guidehouse to identify options for developing pathways to lower greenhouse gas emissions and to decarbonize its existing gas infrastructure. Southwest Gas added that in November it plans to bring the town a suite of programs and measures for how it can help Truckee reach its renewable energy goals.

“It’s incumbent upon us as the council to insist upon objective, specific, quantitative plans from Southwest Gas on how it’s going to achieve a substantial reduction combined with offsets to get us to carbon neutrality,” said Town Councilmember Jan Zabriskie.

As part of the meeting, Southwest Gas provided a snapshot of use for the area, stating that from 2008 to 2016 the area’s therm consumption was between 8.5 and 9.5 million. In 2017, consumption jumped to 11 million therms, and then fell in 2018 to 10.5 million therms. In 2018, 50% of consumption came from primary residential buildings, 23% was secondary residential, 21% was small commercial, and 4% was large commercial.

While Southwest indicated it’s doing its own internal research on emissions, along with working with Guidehouse, council did express frustration regarding timing of that work, specifically the decision to begin working with Guidehouse only a few months ago.

“I’m a little frustrated that Southwest Gas has been working with us for almost two years now and just a few months ago hired this consultant,” said Mayor Anna Klovstad. “We need to be reassured. That’s going to be the bottom line of this discussion.”

Southwest Gas is expected to present Town Council with more details in November before a decision on renewing the franchise agreement is made.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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