In keeping with our efforts to reduce global warming and eliminate air and groundwater pollution, we decided to abandon our oil heating system and buried tank and install a natural gas system.

That is, until we were informed of the cost.

The gas line we need is available at the corner of our property. National Grid said that the gas line was approximately 300 feet from our home and that the company would pay for 100 feet of the line. The remaining 200 feet would cost $101 per foot. The new heating system would cost $8,500 to $18,000, and to remove the buried oil tank would cost $2,500.

National Grid did say that if I were able to get a sufficient number of neighbors to switch to gas, the utility might cover the entire gas-line cost.

Over six weeks, I contacted 44 households, and 20 responded. Of those, 90 percent desperately wanted natural gas. I went back to the National Grid again and was told that because of the 2-acre zoning in our neighborhood, residents would still have to pay a total of $250,000, even if all 44 homes were willing to convert.

This letter is a plea to our neighbors and political leaders. Our government will help only if we all ask.

Robert F. Bayer

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St. James