According to the State of Nevada, the population of Mesquite is based at 18,262 with an additional 5,000 snowbirds during the winter months as shown on the MesquiteMeansBusiness.com website. As of July 12, only 348 responses had been received by the City of Mesquite since the April 8 release of their survey. Only 19 of those were businesses.
Since April 2016, the City of Mesquite has proactively been trying to get feedback from residents, asking them if they would be interested in having natural gas available in Mesquite. Of those 348 responses, 86.78 percent were interested in bringing natural gas to their home or business. That’s a good figure, but the amount of responses needs to be much higher to have any sort of effect.
“I’ve been with Southwest Gas for about 10 years, and Mesquite has always been in the conversation,” said Justin Brown, the Vice President and Regulation and Public Affairs for SW Gas. He cited SB 151 which passed unanimously in the House of Representatives in 2015 and was signed by Governor Brian Sandoval in May 2015. The mission of the bill was to allow for natural gas pipeline companies to expand to rural areas that didn’t have such resources. Mesquite is one of those areas.
On July 6, Southwest Gas held a conference call with several groups to discuss where they intend on going with this survey.
The amount of interest shown from the survey responses will determine how much the area wants or needs natural gas, and how soon SW Gas may potentially be able to supply it here.
“We need to know the total potential demand is, and breaking it up between residential and commercial as well as geographically is what we’re trying to do. That will help us come up with a recommended design for how we would expand services here,” said Brown. He also noted that it’s incredibly important for businesses to respond, as they can typically become large users of the gas, bearing a larger portion of the cost due to their usage. “We need to get these preliminary numbers to create an estimated cost and adjust it from there.”
Cost is the primary driver, but “We’re trying to get a feel for what the people here want.”
Brown said that many times, people who are relocating often look for homes and apartments or facilities that offer natural gas. With Mesquite not currently having that, it’s hard to say how many people would have moved here and helped build the economy after the recession. According to recent talks with Mesquite Regional Business, there have been at least two businesses who passed up Mesquite because natural gas wasn’t available.
“It’s not going to happen unless we get an active response from people,” said City of Mesquite Liaison Officer Aaron Baker. Brown added to that statement saying that the more data and examples and feedback will help their approval go through the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada successfully when it is time to push to get SW Gas out to Mesquite.
For now, the survey is still live on the city’s website and can be accessed by visiting http://www.mesquitenv.gov/ng . Paper copies of the survey are also available at City Hall, 10 E. Mesquite Blvd. during normal business hours.
There are plans further down the road to hold community forums or town hall meetings to bring people together and educate them on the potential of bringing natural gas to the area.
“We are going to want to do this after we get a better idea of what we’re looking at in Mesquite,” said Brown. “We are so early in the process, we want to get an idea of some of the initial demands and costs so we can provide some kind of range to the people.”