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2 northwest Iowa towns consider natural gas utilities

2 northwest Iowa towns consider natural gas utilities

LARCHWOOD (AP) — Two small northwest Iowa towns are considering bringing natural gas to their communities after voters supported exploring the idea.

The Sioux City Journal reports voters in the cities of Larchwood and Lester approved referendums on Nov. 3 that allow each city to establish municipal gas utilities. Larchwood has about 400 water customers and Lester has 110 water customers. Larchwood Mayor Dean Snyders says the decision to pursue city-run natural gas utilities was partially a result of high propane prices.

'The discussion started for the two communities about two years ago when propane prices had spiked during the winter,' Snyders said.

Lester Mayor Dan Gerber says a natural gas line could spur more economic development.

'A lot of manufacturing (industries) and businesses. that's a big plus to have natural gas,' Gerber said.

Snyders says a feasibility study, which began in March, will help determine a potential natural gas supplier, the rate that would be charged, and the cost of installing a gas main.

The gas main will likely be a joint venture between the two cities. According to Gerber, the main would stretch 12 to 15 miles to serve both communities.

The Iowa Utilities Board says it does not keep track of the number of cities without natural gas service.

Board spokesman Donald Tormey said in an email that 'If a community does not have natural gas service at this time, that may indicate that the pipeline company (or companies, depending upon location) have concluded that it is not economical to provide that service, typically because the community is too far from the pipeline given the likely sales volumes.'

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