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Voters approve city gas utility

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

City can now sell natural gas to outside customers

Denton voters approved a proposition that gives the city authority to sell natural gas to nonresidential customers in the industrial park on the city’s west side.

Denton sought special legislation to start a natural gas utility during the last session of the Texas Legislature. Senate Bill 1230 allows the city to build not only a combined heat and power plant but also a high-pressure pipeline in the industrial park. The bill included language that superseded the city charter, which critics have said bypassed Denton voters.

“I personally believe it is in the very best interest of the city to be able to develop its industrial corridor and develop the infrastructure that allows that to happen,” said Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs. “It allows us the ability to control that destiny.”

Burroughs said that without balance between industrial and residential, the tax burden would fall disproportionately on the residential sector as the city grows.

Denton’s economic development officials had approached both CoServ Electric and Atmos Energy about bringing a high-pressure pipeline to the area because the city was having a hard time competing with companies looking to expand or relocate.

After learning that the city would be asked to put up the capital for the pipeline and that the city wouldn’t own the pipeline when it was finished, officials reconsidered that option.

The city has already contracted with Denton-based Teague, Nall and Perkins to design the pipeline and begin environmental studies.

Preliminary drawings show the line running about 2 1/2 miles along Jim Christal Road and Western Boulevard. Officials have said it would take about a year to build a pipeline to serve a new manufacturer, depending on where the company would be located in the industrial park and whether the city would opt to build the entire line. In other words, the city would build the line at the same time a company would be building its manufacturing plant.

The new utility would likely be a part of Denton Municipal Electric, although final details would have to be considered at a future City Council meeting.

“There is a lot of work to do before any actual work on the ground takes place,” Burroughs said.

Staff writer Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe contributed to this report.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjLewisDRC.