Enstar Signing Up New Customers In Homer, Kachemak City

     More and more Homer and Kachemak City residents have been signing up for natural gas as the pipeline makes its way into both towns.

     At last check, Enstar has received 207 applications for service. Southern Division Operations Manager Charlie Pierce said he is anticipating about 1,500 service lines to properties in phase one of construction. 

     According to Enstar’s construction update, crews have been working near West Hill Road, along the Old Sterling Highway back toward Anchor Point and a third crew will be starting on the west end of Fairview Avenue. Utilities Technology, Incorporated will have workers installing pipe on Sterling Highway and will head toward Lake Street. 

     Pierce said the timeline for when crews will complete work and move to the next spot will remain fluid.

     “Weather will drive when we start and when we stop,” he said.

     Patrick Lawrence has been in the Homer office taking applications and helping people get set up. He said property owners should apply for service by July 1 to confirm a connection this year. Lawrence also reminded residents in the phase two portion of construction can lock in this year’s service-line rate of about $1,500 if they come in now. 

     “Currently, the process can take up to about 30 minutes per lot you’re trying to hook up. You can get applications online, fill them out online and submit them… or fax them… or mail them in to our office in Homer,” he said.

     Potential customers will need to know the BTUs for each appliance before they sign up. That number will be located on the appliance itself.

     “When I went through my house… I opened up my dryer and it was just on the inside door. My furnace, I had to take the front door off and it was on the inside. It can be a little bit of work… they’re all a little bit different,” he said.

     Lawrence said property owners can convert over their current propane or fuel oil appliances one at a time to help with costs. State Representative Paul Seaton also said there is assistance at the state level for people interested in hooking up to natural gas. The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation has the energy rebate program as well as an energy efficiency interest rate reduction under its second mortgage program.

     “There’s this AHFC second-mortgage program and connecting to natural gas qualifies under those things in almost all cases. And then when that rebate comes through, it just pays off that second mortgage or is applied to that,” Seaton said.

     More information about those programs is available at the AHFC website. Also, for property owners outside of either the Homer or Kachemak City special assessment districts, there is a way to form your own district through the Kenai Peninsula Borough. 

     “You have to have 70 percent of any boundary agree to the assessment. The second thing is you cannot have... more than 10 percent tax default in any defined boundary. And the third criteria… the amount of the assessment cannot exceed 21 percent of the present value of your property, and you can include the cost of the assessment. So you add that value in as well,” Pierce said.

     He suggested those property owners start with Enstar to get an initial idea for the cost. Pierce, Lawrence and Seaton made their comments during the “Coffee Table” program, which aired Wednesday, May 8 on KBBI and KDLL.