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  • Mona council members air grievances at Nephi City meeting

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

Nephi City added a public comment section to the city agenda at their last meeting in order allow an individual or group four minutes to address a topic before the council.

Bill Mills, Mona mayor, and Mike Stringer, Mona council member, took advantage of that time to enter a complaint about the proposed redundant gas line.

Later, after questioning by the press, Seth Atkinson, Nephi City administrator, said that the sister cities in East Juab were not being forgotten.

“The redundant line will tie into the main gas line running through all of those towns so it will benefit all of those cities (Rocky Ridge, Mona, Nephi and Levan),” said. “All of the businesses currently tied into the main line now will benefit from having that extra connection. It will be a big help to all of East Juab County.”

In the case of future events, like the Pole Creek fire, the city will be able to continue to supply gas to its industrial users as well as to residents and will not need to be put on conservation notice.

Glade Nielson, mayor, laid down the rules for the new comment period before opening it up for comment.

“I would like to emphasize the ‘comment’ part,” said Nielson. “This is not a time for the council to discuss what has been said by those making comments.”

Mills said that he understood, by word of mouth, that the redundant line was going to help Houwelings Tomatoes and would not be of help to Mona City.

“You are in the design stage and you could include us,” said Mills. “You are bypassing Mona.”

He said that Mona was not being considered on any of the new proposals being added to the county and were missing the chance to grow industry to improve growth prospects by the city of Mona.

“The area around Houwelings is our growth area,” said Mills. “If it would affect us, as a sister city, then let us know.”

The gas construction project would dig up the roads of Mona and yet Mona would not have any benefit.

“We need to have some income,” said Mills.

The growth area around the tomato growing facility was in the plans for Mona City to run their own gas line to the plant so they could benefit from some revenue.

“As a sister city,” he said, “we should not just hear what is happening by word of mouth. If it affects us, keep us informed.”

Donald Ball said that, to his way of thinking, if there were problems at the plant then Mona would be called upon to deal with those.

“If Mona deals with the problems, they should benefit,” he said.

Larry Ostler, city council member, has some expertise with the gas system as a former city employee.

It was not Nephi City but the county that permitted the tomato growing facility. In addition, when the power plant was built, which pre-dated the tomato plant, there was not enough gas available through the Nephi system to allow the power plant.

“We could not have supplied the gas they needed,” said Ostler.

According to the American Gas Association (AGA), in 2009, the average U.S. household consumed approximately 721 therms (thm) of natural gas annually, or 1.97 thm per day. The thm is a unit of heat energy equal to100,000 British thermal units (Btu). It is approximately the energy equivalent of burning 100 cubic feet--often referred to as 1 CCF--of natural gas.

The Currant Creek power plant, west of Mona, is a combined-cycle plant, capable of generating 525 megawatts of electricity, enough power for nearly 270,000 homes.

Operating at full capacity, Currant Creek consumes 90,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day. A dekatherm (dth) is a unit of energy used primarily to measure natural gas, and is equal to 10 thm or 1,000,000 British thermal units (MMBtu).

Nevertheless, said Mills, Mona could have the income from natural gas going into the tomato plant.

He said that Mona did appreciate the help that Nephi gave them by helping them with repairs, installations, maintenance and expertise of the gas system in Mona, since Mona could not supply that expertise for themselves.

“The solar plant will go in in our growth area and that means that our city loses more of its ability to make money,” said Mills.

He said that the city had no say over that and, he thought, it was now a set deal. City leadership was not happy about that either.

“We are losing all our growth area,” he said. “The solar panels will not benefit us. There is no solar revenue for us except through the schools.”

Mills said that Mona should be consulted on matters that had an effect on them and that they should not just have a bomb dropped on them, in a manner of speaking.

Kent Jones, council member, said that he appreciated the mayor and council member coming to Nephi’s council meeting.

“Thank you for heightening our understanding,” said Nielson.

Nephi City has agreed to provide the natural gas main line with a redundant connection via Dominion Energy near the Currant Creek Power Plant in Mona.

Nephi City operates as the agent for the Juab Rural Development Agency (JRDA) natural gas system. As the agent, the city holds title to the main line and is appointed to enter into all necessary contracts to assure the system remains operable.

Recently, the Nephi City Council agreed to approve a three-year contract with Dominion and authorize the mayor to sign the documents.

“One item that I may need to clarify that was referenced by Mona Mayor Mills is that as part of this redundant connection, it’s possible that Houwelings Tomatoes may become a natural gas customer once the line is installed,” said Atkinson. “The line we are installing runs right by their business and they may decide to connect.” 

Nephi City acts as the agent for the natural gas main line also handles many of the customers outside of the municipal boundaries of each of the cities. 

“This was set up in an agreement through the Juab Rural Development Agency, the agency that was responsible for the financing and installation of the original gas system,” he said. “Through that agreement, each municipality operates and maintains their own distribution system and Nephi City was set up as the agent for the main line and main line customer connections.”