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Cities will cooperate on natural gas
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Covington is building a pipeline to provide natural gas to Stanton Springs industrial park for Baxter International, and Social Circle won’t – and never intended to – stand in the way, officials say.

Those cities, along with Madison, will jointly provide natural gas to the 1,620-acre industrial park, and Social Circle Mayor Hal Dally said his city was committed to that partnership, including allowing Covington build its pipes across land that falls in Social Circle’s natural gas service territory.

Apparently, there was a miscommunication when the mayors were discussing the issue, as Mayor Ronnie Johnston told his council June 3 that Dally said Social Circle might not allow Covington to cross its territory without compensation.

Johnston said at Monday’s council meeting he didn’t foresee any issues, and Dally said Tuesday Social Circle would work to promote the common good for all of the cities. The Social Circle City Council was expected to discuss the issue Tuesday night at its meeting.

Originally, Johnston said Social Circle wanted Covington give up part of its service territory to Social Circle; that move would be significant because many cities run in part on profits from the sale of gas and electricity.

Johnston said he countered with the possibility of the two cities agreeing to split expenses and revenues 50-50 on two pieces of territory north of Stanton Springs and north of I-20: one piece of property Covington had rights to and one piece of property Social Circle had rights to.

However, now the cities have agreed to hold off on that discussion until a future date, as there is currently no development on Covington’s territory, which is a sliver of land north of I-20 from exit 98 to exit 101. Johnston said he believed there will be future development there, especially close to exit 98, but he didn’t know how much development.

Johnston said Social Circle actually wants to share even more territory further west to the Alcovy River, just west of the River Cove subdivision.

In order to service that area, Covington would have to build natural gas pipes under I-20, which could be very expensive; Social Circle would not have to deal with such an issue.

Johnston suggested the two cities look at the issue later. The Covington City Council agreed, voting 6-0 not to enter into any joint-service agreement but agreeing to collaborate in the future to deliver natural gas as efficiently as possible.

Dally echoed those thoughts, saying Social Circle is willing to partner to serve the area the best way possible.

"It’s not about territorial claims," Dally said.

In related news, the Covington City Council voted unanimously to select Florida-based R.A.W. Construction to install the natural gas pipes at the low bid price of $612,720.

The city council also approved spending $228,155 for 16,000 feet of 6-inch dual-coated steel pipe. The city previously approved the pipe, but the construction firm recommended a higher grade of piping be used for the entire length of the line, instead of for only half of the line; the additional cost for that change is $23,653.

Each city will have to run pipes to Stanton Springs industrial park, where they will then connect to a joint junction box.

From that point, the three cities will split expenses and revenues for infrastructure in the park at a breakdown of 37.5 percent apiece for Covington and Social Circle and 25 percent for Madison.