Residential homeowners on the mid- Cape who wish to connect their homes to natural gas can now get on a waiting list. That was the announcement to local real estate agents this morning by Bill Ciocca, National Grid Community Service Manager.
National Grid's enormous, $80 million expansion of the natural gas transmission lines from the Cape Cod bridges to Eastham is three-quarters of the way completed. "When we bought Keyspan Energy, we bought all the assets under the ground, and we didn't even know what they were" said Ciocca. In exploring the system capacity in 2014, National Grid discovered perilously inadequate supply lines, in some places, no more than four-inches in diameter, with an industry standard of twelve inches. The utility immediately shut down new residential and commercial gas installations.
The demand for natural gas on Cape Cod has never been greater, as the Cape switches from oil heat to gas. Recently, the four nor'easters in March that shut down power to 75 percent of Cape Cod spurred a ten-fold increase in inquiries about household generators, according to Ciocca.
There is a lot of confusion about what can and what cannot be hooked up to natural gas as the five-year moratorium continues. Ciocca says if your existing gas meter can handle the BTU demand of a new item such as a firepit, outdoor grill or indoor range, then you can attach that item now. A plumber would be able to tell you if your gas meter can handle the additional BTU load. Generators are heavy natural gas users, and most likely would need to wait until the moratorium is lifted, Ciocca says.
National Grid also announced that when the system is reopened, the utility will install the first 200 feet of gas line from the street to your home, something for which homeowners used to be charged. Gas lines exceeding 200 feet will cost homeowners $30 per foot.
The project on the lower Cape is on track to be completed at the end of 2019. To download an application for a new natural gas hookup for your home, or for more information on the project in general, go to the National Grid's website.