MOULTRIE, Ga. — The Moultrie City Council agreed last week to participate in a program with the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia that will encourage residents to use natural gas appliances.

The city, which buys natural gas from MGAG and sells it to residents and businesses in the city, will not be selling natural gas appliances, city Utilities Director Elvira Gibson said, but it will host a showroom at the city utilities building where an MGAG employee will do so.

A handful of other Georgia cities are already participating in the program, according to Eric Groom, an analyst for MGAG who spoke at the Aug. 17 city council meeting.

The Natural Gas Connection began four years ago in North Georgia, Groom said, as a way to encourage residential customers to choose natural gas for appropriate energy needs. 

The proposed showroom will display examples of gas appliances, such as tankless water heaters and fire logs. When the program sells such an appliance to a customer, it can provide a zero-interest loan and bill that loan through the customer’s monthly utility bill, Groom said.

The program also includes television commercials to encourage residents to choose natural gas, he said.

The decision was one of two energy-related items on the city council’s short agenda. The council also agreed to a solar power proposal from the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, a sister agency to MGAG that focuses on electricity instead of gas. As MGAG sells natural gas to cities who re-sell it to residents and businesses, MEAG does the same thing with electricity.

Currently, MEAG has no solar assets, Gibson said in an interview after the Aug. 17 meeting. However, a major customer — Walmart — has announced that it wants all its energy consumption to be from renewable sources by 2035.

The Moultrie City Council held first and second readings Aug. 17 on agreements that fit into MEAG’s plan to help meet Walmart’s goal. First and second readings are parliamentary procedures that amount to an agreement to consider a proposal; if the council approves first and second readings, it will consider third and final readings at a later meeting, and the proposal takes effect after a successful vote then.

Gibson said MEAG plans to contract with a developer to build a solar farm that would provide MEAG with solar power. The location of the solar farm has not been determined, she said. Part of the council’s action last week established the city’s willingness to participate in that project.

The other major part of the vote was to set the rate for the solar power that would be sold to Walmart and to clarify other details about the arrangement.

Gibson said she didn’t know what the project’s timing might be.

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