Natural gas — for heating and cooking — is finally coming to the small Town of Glen Echo.
After several requests from Glen Echo officials, Washington Gas has agreed to build the infrastructure for gas installation for $209,877, according to a letter written by a Washington Gas representative.
The money will come out of the town’s cash reserves, which currently are more than $400,000, said Mayor Deborah Beers.
The price would include installing the main gas line and bringing gas to each of the 73 houses where owners had previously expressed interest in installing gas, according to the letter. There are about 100 houses in Glen Echo. Owners will be required to have gas-capable appliances installed before Washington Gas will connect the house to the main gas line. Currently, Glen Echo residents use electricity and oil for heating and cooking.
“Like every other homeowner in the town I am going to be considering the value of gas and whether it makes economic sense,” said Matthew Stiglitz, a Glen Echo Town Council member. He estimated that most of the people in the town use oil, while others use propane or electric heating.
“Provided that Washington Gas follows through on what it promised, it provides a very good opportunity for homeowners to potentially save money and increase property values,” Stiglitz said.
The area of Glen Echo that is on the opposite side of Glen Echo Park will not be included in the installation proposal because Washington Gas said it will not run the gas main line through the park to the other side due to geological difficulty. The Washington Aqueduct, which runs under MacArthur Boulevard, presents an engineering obstacle.
The utility has defined Glen Echo as the area bounded by MacArthur Boulevard, Wellesley Circle, Clara Barton Parkway and Oxford Road, in which there are about 93 homes.
In August, council member Mark McCaffrey introduced an ordinance that would allow Glen Echo to charge a $300 permitting fee to owners who are requesting a gas hookup. Washington Gas’ price will be the same whether one house or many houses sign up, Beers said, but the fee could help offset installation costs for the town.
“For example, if 50 people sign up for gas that would save the town $15,000,” Beers said.
Beers has strongly supported the idea of bringing gas to the town for some time, and the issue has been discussed in town for 30 years, she said. Interest in bringing gas lines into Glen Echo came to the fore in 2011, thanks to the high prices of oil and electric heating.
“To me this looks like a no-brainer,” she said, adding that one of the main reasons that she ran for re-election recently was so she could see gas installation finalized.
“We won’t be dependent on oil prices, and it increases the value of people’s homes.”
Town officials have a meeting scheduled on Friday with representatives from Washington Gas to discuss construction timetables, she said.
The utility company has agreed to install gas and meters in homes within one year from completion of the main gas line installation.
“They said they could do the whole thing in three months,” Beers said of the main line installation. “We’re counting on it all being done by next spring.”
Council member Nancy Long, who initially expressed doubts about the project, but ultimately voted for it, had no comment.