Proposed legislation would aid Pembroke with natural gas pipeline

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Daily Journal staff report

SPRINGFIELD — Proposed legislation in the Illinois Legislature would help bring a natural gas pipeline to Pembroke Township.

Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 3696, which has been assigned to the Energy and Public Utilities committee.

The bill would allow for the extension of natural gas utility services in designated low-income areas, such as Pembroke. A companion bill is being introduced in the House by Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood.

Local officials, including those from Hopkins Park and Pembroke, are working with the Rainbow PUSH coalition and Nicor Gas to advance the extension of the pipeline since late last year.

“Pembroke Township residents and businesses have been expressing a desire for natural gas for decades, and I’m thrilled to be able to sponsor legislation that will help make that a reality,” Joyce said. “Natural gas is more affordable and convenient for residents and will open up Pembroke Township and Hopkins Park for economic development.”

The bill would create designated hardship areas as defined by the U.S. Census Tract and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This designation would allow Nicor Gas to extend natural gas services to low-income communities like Pembroke by allowing it, and any other qualifying gas company, to cover costs for the community that residents are normally required to pay independently.

Nicor Gas estimated that about 30 miles of new pipeline would be required to serve to the community. Based on past experience and the average costs of designing and installing natural gas infrastructure, constructing this pipeline could cost about $8.2 million and take 18 months to construct. Residents would be able to opt in or out of service.

Currently, homes and business in Pembroke use propane, electricity or burning wood for their heating needs.

“Our residents do not have access to the basic utilities that other nearby communities currently do,” said Hopkins Park Mayor Mark Hodge. “A natural gas pipeline could provide a clean fuel for homes in the area and jump-start economic growth by attracting new businesses and manufacturers.”

Congresswoman Robin Kelly is also interested in the establishment of Designated Hardship Areas and equality in utilities.

“When we bring natural gas to Pembroke, we should bring broadband service as well. If you are already digging the trench for the gas line, install broadband alongside it and kill two birds with one stone while creating opportunities for local businesses and residents,” Kelly said.

The effort to bring natural gas to Pembroke dates back a couple decades. Former Gov. George Ryan planned to bring natural gas to the area by constructing a $80 million, 1,800-bed women’s prison in the village. That plan was nixed by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2003 after the project had started.

That site, as well as the former Nestle factory, are considered prime locations for businesses to locate.

01-All No Sub,02-Pol,16-Econ,17-Energy,19-Legal,24-ILGA,26-Delivered,E-Joyce Team

Region: Northern,Region: Kankakee,Local,City: Kankakee

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March 9, 2020 at 08:08AM

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