Saco city officials and Unitil staff celebrate the activation of the first customer service in Unitil’s natural gas expansion launched earlier this spring. A ribbon cutting was held at the First Parish Congregational Church on Beach Street to signify the completion of the gas service to the church. (Left to right) Kelly Fowler, Unitil Business Development Executive, Craig Pendleton, Executive Director, Biddeford and Saco Chamber of Commerce, Kevin Sutherland, Town Administrator, Rick Campbell, First Parish Congregational Church, Roland Michaud, Mayor of Saco, Alec O’Meara, Unitil Media Relations Manager, and Bridget Harmon, Unitil Business Development Representative.
Unitil, the largest natural gas provider in Maine, celebrated the expansion of natural gas services to commercial and residential customers in Saco with a ceremonial ribbon cutting event on Monday, June 13. Unitil began construction on its innovative “Targeted Area Buildout (TAB)” program earlier this spring following approval by the Maine Public Utilities Commission. City officials and local business leaders joined Unitil at the First Parish Congregational Church to activate the first new customer service.
“Our growing community will benefit from access to natural gas services,” said Mayor Roland Michaud. “Not only will more of our current residents and businesses have the opportunity for this affordable heating option, but we are confident that it will help attract new businesses to Saco.”
The new program is the first of its kind in the state. By removing the up-front cost to customers for this expansion, Unitil’s TAB project lowers the barrier for conversion and gives more customers in Saco the opportunity to switch to a cleaner, more affordable heating option. Approximately 1,000 new homes and businesses in Saco will have access to natural gas for the first time.
“We’re impressed with the extensive work that goes into expanding an underground utilities network like natural gas,” said Craig Pendleton, Executive Director of the Biddeford and Saco Chamber of Commerce. “Unitil has worked diligently to ensure the project goes smoothly. The impact on traffic and local businesses has been minimal even during one of the busiest times of year.”
Because of their geographic location relative to the expansion, two of the first new services to connect as part of the expansion are the First Parish Congregational Church and the residence of Saco City Administrator Kevin Sutherland.
“Like many organizations in the area, the First Parish Congregational Church is regularly looking for ways to control costs through energy efficiency,” said Rick Campbell, moderator at the church. “Natural gas gives us the ability to be smarter about our energy costs.”
“As a resident, I’m thrilled to have access to natural gas,” added Sutherland. “Natural gas is not only a less expensive heating option for my home, but I look forward to the convenience and reliability it offers.”
Unitil sees the Saco expansion as a pilot and would consider similar expansion programs in other parts of the state based on its overall success in bringing new customers online. The multiyear project is currently underway along parts of Route One and Industrial Parkway.
Saco businesses and residents seeking to convert to natural gas can go to www.unitil.com/saco/what-tab or call 888-486-4845.