Marco Island City Council discovers natural gas on island

Tampa Electric Company representatives Leroy Sullivan, Jr., left, and Hugh MacFarlane, regional operations manager, listen Monday as Marco Island's City Council discusses how a franchise between the two must contain indemnification for the city. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Tampa Electric Company representatives Leroy Sullivan, Jr., left, and Hugh MacFarlane, regional operations manager, listen Monday as Marco Island's City Council discusses how a franchise between the two must contain indemnification for the city. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

City Attorney Burt Saunders explains changes in wording Marco Island's City Council might consider for second reading of an ordinance establishing a franchise for natural gas with Tampa Electric Company. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

City Attorney Burt Saunders explains changes in wording Marco Island's City Council might consider for second reading of an ordinance establishing a franchise for natural gas with Tampa Electric Company. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— To the surprise of some councilors, Peoples Gas System, a division of Tampa Electric Company, is queued up and ready to bring natural gas onto Marco Island. Marco Island’s City Council learned of the gas line’s presence while exploring a franchise agreement with the company at Monday’s meeting.

Tim Pinter, public works director, explained he had been working on an agreement with TECO for about a year. During that time, the company buried lines along S.R. 951/Collier Boulevard and extended a line under the Marco River. The line was stubbed on the island just south of the Judge S.S. Jolly Bridge.

Council was asked to approve an ordinance on first reading to allow the company to continue the line in the city’s right-of-way down Collier Boulevard to the Marco Hilton. The company would need a 6-inch high pressure line to serve the 75 customers it hopes would use its service along the route.

The ordinance would set future terms for the franchise agreement including monthly payments to the city. Leroy Sullivan, Jr., TECO regional manager, explained the city would receive six percent of gross revenues, less expenses, on all sales of natural gas to customers inside city limits.

The franchise agreement was prepared by TECO and reviewed by Burt Saunders, city attorney. Council agreed that having natural gas available on the island would offer another type of utility for commercial customers.

“The intent is to focus on commercial customers,” Sullivan said, but he did not rule out residential customers in the future.

Councilors were concerned about liabilities with the gas line and construction damage or annoyances. Pinter pointed out the franchise indemnified the city from liability and required TECO to have enough insurance coverage to protect the city. The city could also take remedial action if TECO failed to correct damages it might cause.

Councilor Chuck Kiester, concerned about traffic issues during the winter months, asked how long installation might take.

TECO representatives explained the company was currently negotiating with Heritage Propane to take over its line already under Collier Boulevard. Sullivan said, if the two parties reach agreement, TECO would run 6,000 feet of line from the bridge to Bald Eagle Drive and connect to the Heritage pipes there.

“In a perfect world,” he said, “that would take about 38 days at about 150 feet per day. It’s difficult construction because it’s (the right-of-way) filled with utilities.”

If no agreement with Heritage is reached, TECO would install the line and would complete the work by the end of November.

Council Vice Chairman Joe Batte expressed disappointment that he had not received an earlier heads-up on the project.

“I’m uneasy that this matter has been going on for about a year now, and I have no staff opinion and nobody has mentioned it to council and it’s already come into the area,” he said in council comments.

Councilor Frank Recker moved the ordinance be approved on first reading. The motion passed with a vote of 7-0. Second reading was scheduled for council’s regularly scheduled meeting at 5:30 p.m., April 16, in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

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Comments » 5

August8 writes:

Better check with Obama first, he will not approve lines and pipes in a hasty manner??

RayPray writes:

"Marco Island City Council discovers natural gas on island"

They had but to stare in the municipal mirror....

Johnnymarco49 writes:

Surprise surprise! Apparently no city Council members knew anything about the gas line being buried along side 951. At some points the traffic was backing up a couple miles to the bridge and they are now surpirsed. What is it that these people do all day? Stroke their ego, pat themself on the backs and line their pockets. One last thing...Pinter's name comes up a lot and each time it is not a good thing. Send this problem to Naples with the rest of them.

26yearsonmarco writes:

We already have enough “Natural Gas” emitting from City Hall on daily basis. Why do we need any more???
Will someone please wake the City Council up??
They admit they knew nothing about the project, but pass it 7-0 with little or no discussion.
What else is going on behind the scenes that “We the People” don’t know about????

Is_It_True_Partially_True_Or_Not_True (Inactive) writes:

Come to think of it there really seems to be quite a few things our councilors "know nothing about".

Too bad when that happens it ends up costing all of us a great deal money.

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