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Islanders eager for natural gas service will soon get wish

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of April 13, 2023)

Florida City Gas is ready to begin building out its distribution lines in barrier island communities next month, with John’s Island being a huge and eager market for natural gas service.

The under-river crossing at Wabasso was completed this winter and now the first stretch of the pipeline along A1A through Indian River Shores is in the ground and completed as well.

“Florida City Gas has received the official ‘in-service’ letter fromĀ  Peninsula Pipeline Company (PPC) notifying the company that the pipeline was placed into service as of April 1. Now that the pipeline is active, FCG will begin a methodical process of installing local regulator stations,” said Florida City Gas Sr. Director of Business Development Marc Seagrave.

Seagrave said the four regulator stations, including one in Indian River Shores, will reduce pressure between the main pipeline and gas customers throughout the distribution system and serve as a connection point.

“This system will serve residential communities and business districts throughout the barrier island. The timing for the installation of the FCG facilities will begin in May and the locations where system installations will occur will gradually increase over time as communities and business sign-on, and as permits are received followed by gas system installations,” Seagrave said.

John’s Island Club General Manager Mike Korpar spoke at a recent Shores town council meeting asking for an update on the town’s proposed natural gas franchise agreement. Vero Beach and Indian River County had pre-existing gas franchise agreements signed when gas lines were run on the mainland.

“Florida City Gas wants to run lines in John’s Island this summer,” Korpar said. “They are planning on having gas service in John’s Island in the fall, except for Gem Island and Coconut Palm because there are extra permits and it will take two years for that.”

Mayor Brian Foley said the town staff is working with Florida City Gas on the contract and he wants it before the town council for consideration at its April 27 meeting. “My target is two weeks to have everything worked out with Florida City Gas,” Foley said.

Florida City Gas spokesperson Bianca Soriano said “John’s Island as a community is working with FCG, but not officially signed-on yet. John’s Island officials have expressed that they wish to see a franchise agreement between FCG and the Town of Indian River Shores in place before they can make final commitments.”

Councilwoman Mary Alice Smith said she looks forward to seeing the cost figures, specifically how much it will cost each homeowner to hook up to natural gas service.

“The hook-up costs in many cases may be limited to an account activation fee and a deposit; in other situations, there could be a requirement for the customer (or community) to make a contribution in advance of construction, which is eligible for refund, in order to receive service,” Soriano said.

The Strand community in the Shores was the first island neighborhood to get natural gas service, before the pipeline was run, through a temporary service trailer unit in the development, so most of the infrastructure has been built out there already. The 8050 Blue development across A1A also has a temporary gas facility that will soon be providing Compressed Natural Gas to the condos there.

Indian River Shores and Vero’s Central Beach are the heart of the new natural gas service area, but eventually service will stretch all the way north to Windsor and south to Vero’s South Beach neighborhoods, hotels and businesses.