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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Pines moving closer, but no deal yet with  Sandpiper Energy

(Nov. 26, 2015) OPA Board President Pat Renaud hinted last Thursday during a public meeting in the Assateague Room that the association was on the verge of inking a new deal with Sandpiper Energy.
The directors then went behind closed doors to discuss a contract and emerged two and a half hours later with no deal, but acknowledging that progress had been made.
Essentially, the package being discussed would allow the energy company to convert the more than 8,400 homes in the community from propane to natural gas.
“It went well, I think,” Renaud said of later that day of the board’s discussion. “We’re very close. We’re working on the contract and trying to get to a resolution.”
Renaud said the directors went over a series of questions that were conveyed to General Manager Bob Thompson, whom the board designated to lead the negotiations with the company last June.
 “Hopefully we’ll have something by the end of the year, but I’m not positive on that,” Renaud said. “Bob has worked very hard in trying to get them to see our point of view, and they have, on the other hand, worked very hard to see their point of view.
“I think we’ve come to some remediation that will please everybody,” Renaud continued. “At least, I hope so.”
In October, Renaud said a franchise fee, one of the obstacles in the negotiations that date back more than a year, was apparently off the table. He backtracked slightly from that position last week.
“I don’t know if there’s anything totally off the table,” he said. “Where we gave something, they gave something. We never gave anything without getting reciprocity from them.
“What I see is that they are anxious to close the deal. I think we are anxious too, but not as anxious as they are,” Renaud added.
Sandpiper has already converted propane lines in several communities in Worcester County, including Berlin and West Ocean City, and had hoped to do the same in Ocean Pines last year, when talks stalled.
“I think it makes them look kind of bad that [Sandpiper] is going ahead with West Ocean City and with Ocean City without Ocean Pines, because we’re the biggest fish in the pond, so to speak,” Renaud said. “I think they want to close that deal.”
Once the contract is signed, Renaud suggested Sandpiper would almost immediately start converting lines in Ocean Pines, although he said a full conversion could take several years.