Nov 11, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff WriterLast month, tenants at the Mill Creek subdivision near Ethete began using natural gas to heat their homes and cook meals.
"Uncle Ben Friday Jr. years ago talked about using natural gas," said Patrick Goggles, executive director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Housing. "We've always known about it, and when the opportunity came up, we did it. It was (Friday's) insight, we just carried it through fruition."
The Mill Creek project is a joint effort by the Northern Arapaho Tribe and Source Gas. Others involved include the Northern Arapaho Business Council, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Wyoming Select Committee on Tribal Relations, Goggles said.
"One of the reasons we worked on it was the efficiency of natural gas," he added.
In the past, he said tenants would have to prepay for propane, which can only be purchased at set times on certain days.
Now, residents pay after using the natural gas.
"It eliminated that inconvenience," Goggles said. "We felt natural gas was more efficient in providing a direct benefit to the community."
Another advantage is the cost. Goggles said residents were paying $2.89 for a gallon of propane. Natural gas currently costs 67 cents a gallon.
He said a new transmission line was put southwest of Wyoming Indian High School. The line runs to the intersection of 17 Mile Road and Wyoming Highway 132 and then east to the subdivision to provide service to 47 tenants.
An Indian Community Development Block Grant and U.S. Housing and Urban Development funded the $638,844 project.
"We started construction last summer, and it took two months to construct the right-of-way to put the line in," Goggles said.
However, work on the project started years ago.
Goggles, who represents Wyoming House District 33, and Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, approached the Wyoming Public Service Commission a few years ago and testified that natural gas should be considered.
"We had several people on the front end of it," Goggles said about the project.
He said at least two years were spent on the administration side of the effort, including securing funds, collecting data and going through application processes.
Goggles said the Mill Creek project will unlikely be the last on the Wind River Indian Reservation. He said Source Gas is looking to work with the Eastern Shoshone Tribe in providing services in the Fort Washakie area.
"Source Gas has been a good corporate citizen," Goggles said.
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