City Loses 790 Gas Customers; Offering Money To Come Back PDF Print E-mail
News - Local News
Tuesday, 29 August 2017 11:27
Summerville lost about 20 percent of its natural gas customers in the last seven years and those losses are expected to continue, according to city officials.
The city's natural gas system stretches from Mount Berry Mall in Floyd County to Trion's city limits. Despite its large geographical spread, Summerville continues to lose customers.
The city is losing Summerville Housing Authority customers which have 222-apartment units. The housing authority is switching from natural gas to total electric. 
The decline in customers isn't anything new. It started several years ago. The city had 5,302 natural gas customers 16 years ago. But that number has now dropped to 4,512 customers.
As people continue to leave, so does the city's revenues. Although the city has lost a significant number of residential customers, that's not necessarily where the city is losing the most money.
The city receives a smaller portion of its profits from individuals. The majority, however, comes from industrial and business accounts.
"Mohawk has cut back on the amount of natural gas they use in their manufacturing," Summerville City Manager Tony Carroll said.
The city has taken its biggest hit with industrial customers. Revenues have dropped $3.3 million since 2014.
As the city experiences a customer drain and lower revenues, officials are coming up with rebates to attract new customers. They are also looking to see if existing customers can expand the number of gas appliances currently owned.
"We've looked at ways to improve gas services and we are going to be looking at more on what we need to do to have more people use gas," Mayor Harry Harvey said.
"This is the first step in upping our marketing on natural gas," Carroll said. "We are putting together a residential marketing plan. It targets existing customers that currently have water services, but not gas. We are working to persuade those customers to convert from electric or propane to natural gas."
The city estimates that it has 1,500 water customers that could hook onto its gas system. 
Summerville is using free financing and paying for all or part of people's conversion to gas.
The city is backing $5,000 loans for customers to install or update their heating system.
The loans are for 60 months and available to homeowners of single-family dwellings. It’s zero interest money, except for a monthly $3 administrative fee.
Repaying that loan is added to a customer's utility bill each month.
Eligible funding includes:
* Purchase and installation of a natural gas Energy Star residential tank and tankless water heater.
* Installation of an Energy Star furnace.
* It covers duct insulation and leak sealing, weather-stripping and caulking, attic and floor insulation, controls and diagnostic testing.
People can request applications at city hall.
The city is also offering these rebates:
* Tank-type water heater $200.
* Tankless water heater $200.
* Conversion of water heater from electric to propane $200.
* Gas clothes dryer $150.
* Standard gas range $100.
* Gas logs $50.
* Gas lights $50.
* Gas furnace rebate up to $400.

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