USDA Rural Development State Director Mary \"Ruth\" Tackett today announced $3,000,000 in funding for the Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District to complete a new 33 mile transmission line improving service throughout the utility's 20 county service area. The ceremony was held at the Middle Tennessee Gas training center in Smithville.
\"Adequate public infrastructure is an important factor in providing a good quality of life and in making our communities attractive and well prepared to take full advantage of new economic opportunities,\" said Tackett. \"Middle Tennessee Gas has done a great job building partnerships with local leaders across their service area and by planning for the future in this way, they are helping to ensure this will remain a great place for families and businesses.\"
This Rural Development community facilities loan will be used to complete 33 miles of gas lines from Woodbury in Cannon County to Rock Island in Warren County. This extension will upgrade the entire system and provide the Middle Tennessee Gas with an additional source of natural gas, which is beneficial in times when alternative transmission lines are interrupted and helps improve the utility's access to competitively priced natural gas supplies. Rural Development also provided funding for phase one of this project through a $3,000,000 community facilities loan in 2003.
\"A community's quality of life depends directly on its utilities,\" Congressman Bart Gordon said in a statement. \"Improvement projects like this one are necessary to keep pace with Middle Tennessee's growing population. By upgrading our infrastructure, we ensure residents maintain an enviable quality of life.\"
The gas line extension is funded through Rural Development's community facilities program which provides communities with the financial resources needed to construct or improve essential services. Education, Healthcare, retirement, and civic centers, along with local government buildings for police and fire protection are examples of projects typically funded through this program. Community facilities grants target rural areas with a population less than 20,000.
\"This important Rock Island project has been greatly aided by U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Loan Program, and we appreciate the cooperation and support that State Director, Ruth Tackett and the entire Cookeville Rural Development staff provided, \" said Les Enoch, Chief Executive Officer for Middle Tennessee Utility District.
In his remarks during the presentation, Enoch said \"Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District is a Municipal Corporation established in 1955 to serve the energy needs of Middle Tennessee. In keeping with its mission, the District has continued to expand the distribution system where it has been financially feasible to provide quality natural gas service at competitive rates in a safe, environmentally clean and efficient manner. The District has made substantial progress during its more than 50 year history. It has expanded to 3,100 miles of distribution line and presently serves 53,000 customers located in more than 120 communities in all or portions of 20 counties.\"
\"As a part of the District's ongoing planning process 'Focus on the Future', it was determined in the late 1990's that additional sources of natural gas supply were required to meet the needs of its growing residential, commercial, and industrial energy market area. In 2000, the District began installing a 12 inch steel pipe from a new Interstate pipeline tap in Gladeville (Wilson County) toward Rock Island (Warren County), where it will serve as a new source of supply for the District's customers. As this project developed, the pipepline has been interconnected to the District's existing distribution systems in Watertown, Woodbury, McMinnville, Centertown, and Smithville, and 54.5 miles of 12-inch steel pipe have already been installed and in service. Previously, Rural Development provided a $3 million loan for the Cannon County Phase of the project. The final construction phase of this project extends the pipeline an additional 14.5 miles from western Warren County to a previously completed interconnect in Rock Island and Rural Development has again agreed to help bring this project to a successful conclusion.\"
\"When the final phase of the Rock Island Project is completed, it will allow the District to meet the growth needs of all counties in the District's Middle Tennessee service area for many years into the future; it will lower costs for the District's customers by diversifying sources of both gas supply and Interstate pipeline capacity; it will improve both the integrity and security of the District's overall distribution system; and it will encourage economic development in this rural area of Tennessee.\"
Other participants in the ceremonial check presentation included Senator Lamar Alexander's Field Representative Brent Wiles, Congressman Bart Gordon's Field Representative Billy Smith, and DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster.
USDA Rural Development is committed to the future of rural communities in Tennessee by providing financial and technical assistance through housing, community, and business-cooperative programs. Rural Development assisted 459,219 Tennessee families and businesses with more than $257 million in financial assistance in Fiscal Year 2005. For more information on home ownership or business development programs, contact USDA Tennessee Rural Development toll free at 1-800-342-3149 extension 1493 or visit online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn