CenterPoint says Sebastopol gas plan premature
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:00 AM
An attorney for CenterPoint Energy asked the Board of Supervisors on Monday to request that the Governor veto a bill that would allow Sebastopol Natural Gas District to expand into the western part of Neshoba County including the Pearl River community.
The Board of Supervisors had earlier passed a resolution asking the state Legislature to allow for the expansion at the recommendation of the Sebastopol Gas District.
The bill passed through the legislature and is now awaiting the Governor's signature
CenterPoint attorney Jim Halford, of the Brunini law firm in Jackson, told supervisors Monday that the Public Service Commission in 1968 granted a certificated area of service to CenterPoint Energy, formerly United Gas, on the Pearl River Reservation which includes the Silver Star and Golden Moon casinos as well as the Geyser Falls Water Park, among other Tribal entities.
Because of that, Halford said Sebastopol's proposed expansion was premature and needed further study.
"We're not trying to stop gas coming to this area," he said, noting that there were poultry farmers interested in natural gas service as well as the Tribe.
He said the expansion would block CenterPoint's growth in areas west of Geyser Falls Water Park.
"We want the Governor to veto this bill for now so we can make sure it is a well thought out plan," Halford said. "We just have a lot of questions about how it will be done. We want to work with them. They are our customers."
Halford said CenterPoint was currently in talks with the Tribe about providing natural gas service to the Pearl River Reservation.
He said Sebastopol's proposed expansion would not allow it to provide natural gas to the casinos and other Tribal businesses.
"This law does not allow that because it is in our certificated areas," Halford said.
Sebastopol's proposed expansion would begin about a mile west of CenterPoint's certificated area just past the water park at Pearl River.
Supervisors took no action Monday on CenterPoint's request for the veto.
CenterPoint currently provides natural gas to customers in the Union area of Neshoba County, and along the pipeline at Neshoba, McDonald, Linwood, Deemer and the city of Philadelphia. The service area ends on Mississippi 16 west at Bumpers.
Supervisors voiced concerns about a need for natural gas service to poultry farms, particularly in the areas along the proposed Sebastopol expansion, saying it would bring significant savings to the farmers.
Lee Stribling, an attorney for the Sebastopol District, told supervisors that they not only want to provide natural gas to the casinos and other Tribal businesses but poultry farms as well.
"That whole area is littered with chicken houses," he said.
The Sebastopol District currently provides natural gas to the southwestern portion of the county only.
If the Governor signs the legislation, the proposed route of the new natural gas line would be mostly along Mississippi 21 south to an area in the vicinity of the Neshoba County Fairgrounds, where it would cross over toward the Pearl River community, Stribling said.
The Sebastopol Natural Gas District was created by the Legislature in 1998. It was expanded initially into Neshoba County in 2008.