County backs Sebastopol Gas plan to issue $15M in debt
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 12:00 AM
The Sebastopol Natural Gas District plans to ask the Legislature to increase its funding capacity to expand further into western Neshoba County and into the Pearl River community.
A formal resolution granting the county's approval of the Sebastopol District's plan to increase its current debt authority from $10 million to $15 million by the issuance of revenue bonds was passed Monday by the Board of Supervisors.
Lee Stribling, an attorney for the Sebastopol District, said Monday the funding capacity increase is being sought specifically for expansion into Neshoba County and onto the Pearl River Reservation.
While Stribling was not in attendance at the Monday board meeting, he told supervisors last year that the expansion would allow the district to make natural gas available to several poultry farms and other households in the western part of the county.
This would be a significant savings to the poultry farmers, Stribling said.
He said the expansion would also target businesses on the Pearl River Reservation, noting that gas officials were in discussions with the Choctaw Tribe.
The district currently provides natural gas to the southwestern portion of the county only.
The proposed route of the 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 earlier.
The Sebastopol Natural Gas District was created in 1998. It was expanded initially into Neshoba County in 2008.
In April 2013, an attorney for CenterPoint Energy asked the Board of Supervisors to ask the Governor to veto a bill that eventually allowed the Sebastopol Natural Gas District to expand into the western part of Neshoba County.
The Board of Supervisors had earlier passed a resolution asking the Legislature to allow for the expansion at the recommendation of the Sebastopol District.
CenterPoint attorney Jim Halford, of the Brunini law firm in Jackson, told supervisors at that time 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 at the time, 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.
Halford said CenterPoint was 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.
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.