Barbara Lawlor, Gilpin County. For decades, many of Gilpin and Boulder County residents have depended on propane gas for their heating source. They have purchased and installed the metal cylinders that hold the gas that heats their water and their pipes, as well as fuels their stoves and refrigerators.
Propane has been a blessing for those in the mountains who have been unable to obtain natural gas. It has also been a pain: always needing to be filled before the next snowstorm makes the driveway unaccessible; always dependent on when the driver can make it to your home.
In 1997, the Colorado Natural Gas Company brought natural gas to those mountain communities that weren’t being served. They began with the southern end of Gilpin County and slowly expanded their lines northward, eventually bringing natural gas to Lump Gulch.
Bill Shaw, the Colorado Operations Manager of Colorado Natural Gas, was in Gilpin County last week and says that their first customer was the new Gilpin County Justice Center. After that lines spread into the subdivisions north of there, on a continuous, slow march aimed to offer service to all of Gilpin County.
Shaw is a native Coloradoan and has been in the oil and gas business for 28 years. At first he worked on the exploration side, located in the Permian Basin in the Texas Panhandle and the D-J Basin in Colorado. He then was hired by Greeley Gas Company, in Greeley, where he worked for six years as a meter reader and service technician before hooking up with Colorado Natural Gas in 1997,
It was the beginning of CNG’s move into Colorado, the largest of its service territory. Shaw worked as a Service Technician. By 2005, he was promoted to the Pine District Manager and in 2010, he became the state operation Manager for CNG. He lives in Bailey.
Shaw visited the CNG building on the Peak to Peak Highway, across the street from Taggert’s in Mid-Gilpin County. He met with Bill Jackson, the local representative, and Cory Brown, the service technician. He said that CNG’s mission, “is to promote the efficient use of natural gas at an affordable price as well as a dedication to achieve a cleaner environment. CNG provides a natural gas service to the mountain communities west of Denver and Colorado Springs, and it serves more than 20,000 customers in parts of Jefferson, Gilpin, Park, Teller, Summit and Pueblo Counties.”
CNG gathered 1,400 customers in their initial push to Lump Gulch. Shaw said people prefer to have natural gas and now it is up to the Gilpin crew to let people know about the proposed expansion. He says they will call people, send emails and knock on doors to get the 125 customers required to build the main line to Rollinsville. He says that so far he has had a huge response of residents in favor of expanding the line north.
Now it is time to reach out to the larger community. On Saturday, March 26 and on Tuesday, March 29, there will be an open house upstairs in the Stage Stop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This will be an opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns.
Bill Jackson says there are at least 125 potential customers in the area and he has heard nothing bad about the proposal. They need to get people to sign up to begin excavation of the line which will include 45,000 feet of new pipe to Rollinsville.
Shaw says that from that main line, the company can run 300 feet of line to the house with no charge, but residents would have to convert their propane appliances to natural gas.
The advantages of Natural gas: less worry or stress about keeping the tank filled; natural gas is safer because it is lighter and rises and dissipates instead of pooling. Propane is more volatile; Natural gas burns cleaner and you don’t have to pay for what you don’t use. Shaw says that gas sitting inside a tank over the summer can evaporate.
A natural gas company is regulated by the Public Service Commission. There are no fluctuations in price. Typically, Natural gas has been cheaper that propane. Jackson, who came to Colorado five years ago, had been with the Missouri Summit Utilities, the parent company of Colorado Natural Gas.
“I asked to come here. I wanted to see something different.” For a long time Jackson ran the company out of a house across the street from the present building. Now he has three offices, a kitchen, a display room, two employees, and an equipment and supply room. Their location has them close to whatever emergencies may come up.
The main line will run along the shoulder of the highway, on county right of way. If approved, the project would start in June and customers would be on natural gas in mid to late September. There would be instances of one way traffic. CNG is looking into directional drilling, which wouldn’t offset the traffic except for making way for equipment on the road.
Jackson lives in Dory Lakes and his children attend Gilpin Schools.
Service technician Cory Brown, a Nederland High School graduate, says he enjoys the job and enjoys getting to know the people on the line.
Brown is responsible for reading the meters and installing the service lines. “We’re looking forward to serving more of Gilpin County,” he says.