FARMINGTON — It appears that nearly 1,000 people represented by the Hammond Conservancy District are among those who are scheduled to lose access to natural gas from San Juan County distribution lines at the end of the summer.
The Daily Times had previously reported that 63 land and business owners were going to be impacted. One of those owners is the conservancy district.
"One way or the other, I know that New Mexico (Gas Company) is trying to work with us," said Teresa Lane, the district's manager. But, she said, her customers may have to begin paying higher rates to power the pumps that provide the water.
In 1995, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved a transfer of ownership of the lines from PNM to a company that land owners say is not a public utility company.
In 2009, that company and another listed as an owner told the New Mexico Gas Company they will stop providing gas to 474 customers hooked into the lines. The gas company has historically bought the gas traveling through the lines and sold it to metered customers.
The PRC ruled on March 5 that the New Mexico Gas Company will extend its main lines to 411 of the customers, exempting 63, including the Hammond Conservancy District.
Some of those 63 customers say the deal violates their right-of-way agreements, which guarantee them gas for domestic uses as long as the lines and the gas in them run under their property.
The nearly 1,000 conservancy district customers are sprawled along land off of County Road 4990 and from south of the San Juan River from County Road 5500 to B-Square Ranch. It also includes customers off of Mangum Road.
These customers' rates would rise — maybe triple — if the conservancy district has to switch from natural gas to electric or propane to pump the water, Lane said.
The conservancy district pumps water into two lateral irrigation canals, and 105 people take water from them, she said. Those customers could lose some amounts of that water, she said, when the conservancy district office's supply is cut off in September. However, she said the district has an agreement that will allow them to continue using natural gas from other lines to pump water to their customers for the next two years. She said it's not clear what will happen after that.
"This district represents near 1,000 people," she said.