THE ongoing region-by-region conversion of 6,800 Manx homes and businesses from a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to natural gas supply will move from the south to the west this week.
The £23.5 million project, being carried out by Manx Gas on behalf of the government, will see changes to most people’s gas bills, with most people expected to end up paying less on average.
Project manager Aiden Baglow said: ‘Today (Monday) we will finish in Port St Mary, concluding conversions of just short of 5,000 homes and businesses, including all of Ramsey, Castletown, Ballasalla, Colby, Ballakillowey and Port Erin. Next is Kirk Michael, then we’re off to Peel, and finish in Ballaugh in December.’
Mr Baglow said the pre-conversion surveys have helped keep the project running on time.
‘We’re on schedule exactly to the day, there has been a lot of organisation, and the survey last year has helped take away some of the surprises,’ he said.
‘We’re delighted with how well it is going,’ he added. ‘It has been well received, though we understand it is an inconvenience. The on-site customer support bus has helped, as we have been based in the middle of the communities we have been working in’
Home appliances needed to be converted after the government extended the natural gas network – which already included Douglas – to the north, west and south of the island.
Mr Baglow said customers in areas not yet covered by the pipeline will not be made to face higher bills just because of geography.
‘In 2013 the government has plans to introduce an all-island central heating tariff. Liquid petroleum gas is a much more expensive product than natural gas, but all homes will play exactly the same rate for their usage. It brings a degree of equity to the island’s energy market.’
On the gas holders pictured above, at the now redundant Port St Mary gas station, Mr Baglow explained: ‘The plant will be decommissioned, and left as it is for the time being. All the gas will be taken out, and it will be made safe, like the plant in Ramsey. I’m not sure what the future holds for them. There are no plans to develop the sites, the focus at the moment is just on the conversions, and making sure the rest of our customers experience the same smooth conversion service.’
The basic conversion process lasts a maximum of three days and customers’ hot water and heating should be back in action within the first day. Any new appliances are fitted by the end of the second day and the third is to resolve any problems.