By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – The city of Pontotoc will expend more than $1.8 million upgrading and expanding its natural gas system under an order filed this week by Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley.
Additionally, under the order, the rates agreed to in the summer of 2012 will remain in effect for the system that provides natural gas to about 6,625 customers in Pontotoc and Union counties.
Pontotoc Mayor Jeff Stafford said the order is “a good day for the city.”
Presley said over an extended period of time the rates for the Pontotoc system had not been approved by the three-member commission. So the decision was made to expend some of “the excess cash” that was garnered during a period when the rates were not approved in a manner to benefit customers.
Under the order, $1.1 million was approved to replace all the natural gas meters, which provide a savings of $98,000 annually to customers. Plus, $754,734 was approved to expand the service to the Pontotoc County areas of Toccopola, Longview, New Hope Road and the Three Rivers Waste Authority, adding more than 200 customers.
The city will keep a little more than $1 million in its cash reserves.
Presley said, “This order disposes of Pontotoc’s excess funds in a manner that best serves the city’s customers and the natural gas system for years to come and provides low and reasonable rates. Also I am proud that the funds will be used to bring natural gas service to rural areas that currently are without it.”
As part of the review, rates have been reduced from an average of $67.09 to $51.43 per month, Presley said. Stafford said the reduced cost of natural gas was a factor in that reduction.
As part of the order, the PSC will monitor the city’s rates and cash on hand.
The natural gas system has about 800 miles of main line in portions of Pontotoc and Union counties.