A major hurdle to providing natural gas in much of the county was cleared this week because of an Attorney General’s opinion.
The Columbia Adair Utility District and County Judge Executive Michael Lee Stephens have been working for months to find a way for the county to provide natural gas to residents not being served by the city’s natural gas lines. The city is not interested in expanding its operations throughout the county but regulations limit CAUD from adding a separate gas department.
Since July, CAUD director Lenny Stone and Judge Stephens have asked how a gas program could be legally implemented. On Monday, they got their answer. Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office wrote in a legal opinion that it is unable to find any authority preventing the county from establishing a corporation to sell natural gas. Stephens said the corporation would be a legal entity separate from the current CAUD and would be operated by a separate board. He said the next step would be to determine what is necessary to establish a legal corporation.
Stone and the district have been working on the project for some time and the district surveyed water customers to determine the level of interest in providing natural gas to various parts of the county. Poultry houses, which have become a large revenue source for farmers in the county, tend to be major users of natural gas when it is available.
The Attorney General opinion states that the county must comply with applicable statutes regarding acquiring debt and related to starting a corporation.
More details will be provided in Thursday’s edition of the Community Voice.
By Sharon Burton