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Natural gas system to be upgraded

To keep up with residential and industrial growth in the city and to keep gas going to everyone on the system, Perham Public Works is planning on making improvements to some natural gas mains.

 The distribution system is currently experiencing growing pains, particularly on the north side of town, following industry expansions in recent years, according to Public Works Director Merle Meece. Upgrades will need to be started this fall, in order to prevent problems this winter.

 Meece said a consulting firm that specializes in natural gas conducted an analysis of Perham’s system last year, and made several recommendations about what the city needs to do to keep up with its growing gas needs.

 In a memo to Perham city councilors, Meece laid out some of those recommendations, which include four separate improvement projects that will ultimately work together to help form a long-term solution.

 The first project involves interlocking the gas mains between County Road 51 and Pinewood Lane to 3rd Street and 2nd Avenue northwest. This will increase volume and help with pressure problems, Meece said, but will not solve the problem by itself.

 The second project will connect the south side of the system to the north side. A connecting ‘loop’ will be installed in two parts, starting with one-half of the loop this fall and the other half within the next couple of years. The city border station will also need to be upsized, at an unspecified time, to keep up with demand, and a gas main that will deliver gas to the new Barrel O’ Fun warehouse will need to be upsized before construction of the warehouse is complete.

 While the project as a whole needs to get underway before this winter, it’s expected to be completed in phases, and could take two or more years before it’s finished. Other elements also could be added to the project before it’s all said and done.

 At a meeting Monday, city councilors gave their approval to getting the project started.

So far, the estimated cost of the improvements is $837,000; that doesn’t include the cost of upsizing the city’s border station, which the consulting firm is still determining an estimate for.

City Manager Kelcey Klemm said the upgrades would be paid for out of the city’s gas fund.

No exact start dates for the projects have been set yet.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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