City Officials Give Thumbs Up To Cold Weather PDF Print E-mail
News - Local News
Monday, 08 January 2018 10:57
While the frigid temperatures are making Chattoogans bundle up this week, the wintry weather is making officials at the City of Summerville smile.
The cold weather is generating extra natural gas sales and pushing the city's revenue higher. 
"We are in the black as of today," Summerville City Manager Tony Carroll said Tuesday about the city's revenue outpacing expenses.
The city is selling so much natural gas to residential customers that Mohawk Industries was asked to curtail some of its manufacturing to help keep pace with demand.
"Most of the time they can cut back enough to accommodate us," Carroll said.
If the weather and demand continues, the city could ask Mohawk to stop using natural gas temporarily. It's part of an agreement the city has with Mohawk. In return for interrupting the carpet manufacturer's supply occasionally, Mohawk gets a cheaper rate.
It's not every year Mohawk is asked to reduce its use. It depends on how frigid it gets and how much residential customers use.
"We did not have to curtail anybody at all last year," Carroll said.
Not only is the cold weather boosting city revenues, but the additional gas lines laid to 23 chicken houses also helps. Supplying one chicken house gas is like selling it to 40 residential houses, Carroll said.
"They have to keep [those chicken houses] pretty hot in there, especially when they are new [chicks]," the city manager said.
A couple of years ago the city decided to borrow money to run natural gas lines to 23 chicken houses in Summerville, Lyerly and Armuchee.
As part of the deal, the poultry owners agreed to buy gas from Summerville and they would repay the city's expenses for running the pipe, if the farmer closes.
"If they go out of business, they have to pay us back what they spent for us building the line to them," Carroll said. 
The cold weather has also helped the city's operating account. Currently it's got more than $1.8 million. That's up $300,000 this same time two years ago.
Although the cold snap is good for city revenues, officials want to get away from relying on the weather. The city is offering free water heaters and other incentives.
If people switch to natural gas, the city will also finance the cost up to $5,000. That includes the cost of labor.
The city adds the financing cost onto the customer's bill. The benefit is the zero-percent financing, except for a $3 monthly administrative fee the city adds.
Customers have 60 months to pay it back. 
"People are taking advantage of this financing. It's a pretty good deal," the city manager said.
The city manager said it's cheaper to operate a natural gas water heater than an electric, he said.
"It was actually amazing how much you save by going with natural gas," Carroll said.
Summerville budgeted to sell $6.5 million in natural gas this fiscal year. 

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