As natural gas production in the U.S. continues at record highs for now and the foreseeable future, the cost to heat a home or business has dropped dramatically over the last decade.
For consumers, this is welcome news for those ready to make the leap to heating and cooking with natural gas.
“This is one of the only commodities that is cheaper than it was five years ago,” said Darryl Knight, general manager/vice president of Frontier Natural Gas, the area’s sole provider of natural gas.
As a result of the increased production of natural gas throughout the U.S., residents and businesses wanting to use gas can expect a monthly savings of between 40 and 60 percent, said Knight.
“I’m excited everyday when I get to work because it is such a cost savings for businesses and residences,” he said.
Natural gas arrived in Ashe County, according to Knight, in 2002, when Frontier ran a gas line from Surry County to the Gates Rubber plant in Jefferson
Since then, the line has been extended into West Jefferson. Gas lines now run through the business districts and several neighborhoods of both towns.
For homeowners interested in converting from propane to natural gas to heat and cook, Knight said the conversion is a relatively straightforward process.
Essentially, he said, a homeowner can change the “jets” in the heating unit to convert from propane to natural gas.
However, for those who are using fuel oil to heat, a new gas-burning furnace is required and that conversion is more expensive.
Frontier has approached the N.C. Utilities Commission to explore the possibility of offering consumers wanting to switch from oil to gas some financial assistance to help pay for the conversion, he said.
Because Frontier is a public utility, any type of conversion-assistance program for potential residential or business customers would have to be approved by the NCUC.
There is no timetable for when a final decision might be made by the NCUC on allowing Frontier to help consumers make the switch.
Knight had a few words of advice for those exploring the possibility of making the switch.
“Go out and canvas your neighborhood,” he said.
However, for those interested and maybe are a little shy, Frontier will also help.
Just call them at 336-526-2690 and they’ll contact all the residents in an area to determine if there is enough support to extend a new gas line.
To reach Cliff Clark, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 336-846-7164.