Rates for water and natural gas services will increase effective July 1, 2018.
Water rates will increase by two percent, which will affect the average residential monthly water bill by approximately $0.52.
Natural gas rates will increase by 2.165 percent. The average residential monthly natural gas bill during the heating season, when customers use the most natural gas, may increase by approximately $0.93.
HU natural gas crews have completed the southeast loop to South Johnson Chapel Road, says Engineering Services Manager Glen Partlow. HU has applied for permits to complete the remainder of the project, and Partlow says he expects the state to issue the permits within the next few weeks.
Crews have installed 18,501 feet of natural gas line this year. “We have 3,200 feet left to close the southeast gas loop,” Partlow says. Completing the loop will create a two-way feed, which will increase pressure and reliability in the county throughout the system, he says, but in particular the Danville High School and Elementary School area.
During the summer months, vegetation around transformers and meters can quickly become overgrown. When this happens, HU crews might have difficulty reading meters – or worse, be unable to safely get to a transformer during a power failure.
HU crews must have access to transformers and meters, Customer Service Manager Terri Harris says. “If your meter box is surrounded by holly bushes, now would be the time to trim them back,” she reminds. “While we try to avoid it, we can charge a restricted access fee,” Harris says.
It can be a safety issue as well, Harris explains. Crews need a minimum area of six feet to work on most electric equipment, and workers cannot work through bushes. However, she says, HU crews will only remove plants in an emergency situation.
Customers with shrubs or other vegetation blocking access are notified by letter from Electric Department Superintendent Jonathan Hampton, asking them to remove the vegetation or obstruction.
According to Kyle Laney, HU’s new Gas System Operator, during September natural gas customers should have received a brochure explaining the hazards of natural gas leaks, the 811 info line for locating underground services, and what to do if you suspect a natural gas leak. The brochure is part of HU’s public information campaign, Laney says, to make sure that natural gas customer and others who live near natural gas pipelines understand steps that need to be taken to prevent and respond to accidents.
HU adds an odor, similar to the smell of rotten eggs, to natural gas to let customers and others who live near the pipeline know quickly if there is a problem. If you smell natural gas, leave the house or building; call HU at 773-3340; and do not light any flames and avoid all sources of ignition.
In order to streamline operations, HU has changed several natural gas meter reading schedules, combining several natural gas routes. “We have three meter readers,” explains Customer Service Manager Terri Harris, “and they read 16,000 meters each month. Over the years we added new customers at different times, and many were on different meter reading schedules. We’ve looked at making these changes for a while, and chose this time of year because of the minimal impact the change will have on natural gas customers.”
The following meter routes will be affected: 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 138, 139. Customers on these routes will see a new account number on their bill, and customers in all routes except 138 and 139 will see a change in their due date to the 15th of each month..
All customers in the routes which were modified were sent a letter explaining the changes and informing them of the new payment due date. If you have any questions please call Terri Harris at 773-3340.
Base charges for water, sewer and gas services will increase effective July 1, 2013. The average residential customer will see a monthly increase of $.76 for water services; $2.82 for sewer services; and $1.88 for natural gas services.
HU Gas System Operator Tony Vest will retire July 1. Vest started with HU as an installer in the water department in 1987, and later became a gas installer and a crew foreman before taking over the gas department.
HU’s Gas System has grown tremendously during Vest’s 17 years as Gas System Operator. In the 1980s, he reports, the system consisted of 45 miles of pipe and 443 customers. Today, there are 210 miles of pipeline and 4,200 customers. “We typically add 40-45 customers a year,” he explains.
One of the biggest changes to the gas system under Vest has been the cast iron pipe replacement program. “We had about 40 miles of cast iron pipe, which is vulnerable to cold weather and ground changes, which is why the DOT mandated that systems get rid of it,” Vest explains. “We bit off a section each year, and are now down to less than four miles of cast iron.”
Vest retired from the National Guard in 1997, and other than his time in the military has lived in Hartselle his entire life. He and his wife, Donna, have two children and one granddaughter.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” Vest says. “What will I miss the most? Working with the guys in the field.”