IT’S TIME TO HIT THE GAS

Long-awaited nat­u­ral gas net­work will go live on Novem­ber 1

McIvor Times - - FRONT PAGE - By LACH­LAN DURLING

IT’S been a long time com­ing but most of Heath­cote is about to be cook­ing with gas — and with­out a gas bot­tle.

The fi­nal stages of the hook-up to de­liver nat­u­ral gas to nearly every house­hold are un­der way.

The 12km nat­u­ral gas net­work is ex­pected to go live on Novem­ber 1, with res­i­dents be­ing en­cour­aged to ap­ply for a nat­u­ral gas con­nec­tion now.

A to­tal of 635 premises in the town will be el­i­gi­ble to tap into the net­work, which could be ex­panded de­pend­ing on con­ver­sa­tions be­tween res­i­dents and Brook­field In­fra­struc­ture.

Na­tion­als mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan said the gas promised ben­e­fits for res­i­dents and busi­nesses in town.

“One of the ma­jor things which is a big plus of the nat­u­ral gas com­ing here is the tra­di­tional heat­ing in homes has been solid wood fire,” Ms Ryan said.

“With our age­ing pop­u­la­tion here, hav­ing nat­u­ral gas means peo­ple can move away from that and onto an eas­ier way to stay warm in win­ter.”

While those who aren’t in the reach of the net­work will have to con­tinue to rely on bot­tled gas, Ms Ryan said there was the op­por­tu­nity to ex­tend the net­work.

“If there are res­i­dences on the pe­riph­ery of the net­work that haven’t con­nected, they will need to get their neigh­bours on board so their street can jus­tify the cost to the com­pany to ex­tend it fur­ther,” she said.

“The com­pany has done what they can eco­nom­i­cally, and if peo­ple want it ex­tended fur­ther they’ll need to have a con­ver­sa­tion with the com­pany to see if it’s vi­able.”

Heath­cote Tourism and Devel­op­ment pres­i­dent Peter Maine said ac­cess to nat­u­ral gas gives the town a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

“His­tor­i­cally, the avail­abil­ity of nat­u­ral gas has been a strong driver in bring­ing in­dus­try into a re­gion,” Mr Maine said.

“So I’m de­lighted we now have the abil­ity for busi­nesses to con­nect to nat­u­ral gas. It’ll make a big dif­fer­ence to Heath­cote.

“But it’s a ma­jor plus for res­i­dents, too. It’s im­pos­si­ble to run a cen­tral heat­ing sys­tem on bot­tled gas, so this lets peo­ple switch over for a cheaper way to heat their home.”

The project was orig­i­nally promised for 2010 but was de­layed after a lack of sup­port from sur­round­ing MPs .

Ms Ryan said the roll­out of nat­u­ral gas to Heath­cote was in­sti­gated and funded by the Na­tion­als when last in gov­ern­ment.

“It was the Na­tion­als in Coali­tion who es­tab­lished the En­ergy for Re­gions Fund to sub­sidise Brook­field In­fra­struc­ture to come up with an in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion to pro­vide gas to Heath­cote,’’ she said.

“La­bor re­peat­edly rub­bished the pro­gram, with the mem­ber for Bendigo East Jac­inta Al­lan say­ing our plan to roll out gas to Heath­cote was a ‘mon­strous hoax’.’’

For­mer Na­tion­als Mem­ber for Rod­ney Paul Weller (left), Na­tion­als Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan and Heath­cote Tourism and Devel­op­ment pres­i­dent Peter Maine are ready for Heath­cote’s gas con­nec­tion.

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