Several natural gas pipelines run within a couple of miles of Maybell, but residents of the small rural town still must heat their homes with propane.
That's likely to change later this year, when another pipeline is constructed one mile east of Maybell.
Entrega Gas Pipeline has agreed to provide a side valve tap in the pipeline that the company has proposed constructing. A gas distributor could use the tap to sell natural gas to customers in Maybell.
"I think we made a huge step in trying to get natural gas to the community of Maybell," Moffat County Commissioner Darryl Steele said.
Steele has led the effort to get Entrega to include a tap on the pipeline so Maybell residents could have access to natural gas. But for months Entrega representatives said it would not be cost effective to include a tap on the line. Price estimates, according to the commissioners, ranged between $75,000 and $3 million.
But after an at times heated meeting between the pipeline companies, the commissioners and state Sen. Jack Taylor in December, Entrega notified the county earlier this month that it would include the tap in the pipeline.
The topic of a gas tap for Maybell was problematic, not because of the cost, but because Entrega is prohibited by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from marketing gas, said Denny Needham, coordinator of regulations for Entrega.
"With a pipeline like ours, you really can't market to sell gas," Needham said.
The distributing company must determine the volume of gas Maybell will purchase. Then Entrega will know the tap size needed, as well as the cost of the project, Needham said,
"We are committed to making this work," he said.
Maybell resident and "R" Family Restaurant owner Mike Robinson was glad to hear the news.
"I think it's going to be a big thing as long as natural gas is the same price as propane," Robinson said.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, propane is selling for $1.73 a gallon. By contrast, natural gas prices were at $11.65 per 1,000 cubic feet as of October 2004.
Robinson estimated that about 80 percent of Maybell residents would take advantage of the opportunity to heat their homes with natural gas rather than propane.
Despite the cost of adapting furnaces to burn natural gas, it still will be cheaper than burning propane, Robinson said.
Although Robinson is glad that Entrega will include a tap on the pipeline, he hopes the company hires local workers for the pipeline construction, too.
Entrega representatives said 25 percent of the temporary help will be from Wyoming or Colorado.
The commissioners will help find a company to distribute gas from the pipeline, Steele said.
"Once we get a distribution company to take a look at this, then the county would be out if it," Steele said. "It would then be up to private enterprise."
Steele has been working to get natural gas provided to Maybell for 30 years, since the first pipeline passed near Maybell.
Steele heats his ranch home with propane, and he said that he would tap into the natural gas.
Entrega has proposed building a 36-inch pipeline that will transport gas from the Piceance Basin near Meeker to Wamsutter, Wyo. The pipeline is scheduled for construction this spring and scheduled to commence service by the fall.