By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- One of the most highly sought after and lower cost forms of energy could soon be accessible to more commercial and residential properties in Indian River County.
A representative from Florida City Gas gave a presentation during the Nov. 20 county commission meeting about a new gas line project in the county, which came about largely in part because of a request from Fellsmere.
Construction has already begun on areas of county roads 512 and 510 and a few other side roads in the north county area.
Mark Seagrave, market development manager for the natural gas company, said his company has served Indian River County since 1996.
More than a year ago, Jason Nunemaker, city manager of Fellsmere, requested a study be done about bringing a natural gas line into the city to help it with economic development. Now the company is putting in motion a plan that will eventually bring natural gas to Fellsmere, properties west of Fellsmere, areas in Sebastian, possibly Winter Beach and eventually, the barrier island.
Florida City Gas is owned by AGL Resources, the largest natural gas provider in the country, serving more than 4.5 million customers in seven states.
Mr. Seagrave said the demand for natural gas is the highest it has been in the 26 years he has been in the industry. With the discovery of methods to get natural gas from shale deposits, the U.S. has been able to increase its supply of natural gas, thereby lowering the cost to the consumer for the product.
Shale is a sedimentary rock with a variety of minerals, including clay. Shale gas is produced and found within shale rock formations
"It's a hedge against the rising cost of electricity," Mr. Seagrave said.
He said requests from larger commercial properties, such as citrus packing houses, have resulted in a four-part plan to bring new natural gas pipelines to the north and central part of the county, as their current lines would not have enough capacity.
Fellsmere's interest in natural gas comes from its desire to bring more industry to the area. A big part of the interest lies in an aquaculture farm that is considering moving to Fellsmere and having natural gas accessibility, Mr. Seagrave said.
Commissioners seemed quite interested in the presentation and the potential it had for making Indian River County more marketable.
Commissioner Wesley Davis said along with fiber lines, natural gas could be another tool in the county's toolbox to give it a competitive edge over other counties, when businesses are looking to relocate.
Potential future plans for using compressed natural gas to run county fleets were also discussed and seen as a potential energy savings for the county.