The Ocean Pines Association (OPA) is pleased to announce negotiations with Sandpiper Energy, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, have been successfully concluded. OPA General Manager Bob Thompson led the discussions with Steve Thompson, President of Sandpiper Energy (no relation) to develop a comprehensive solution which was presented to the Board for consideration. OPA Board of Directors voted 5-2 on December 17, 2015 in favor of the proposed agreements with Sandpiper Energy that will facilitate the conversion of the Ocean Pines community from propane to natural gas service over the next few years. Bob Thompson and Steve Thompson have been in discussions over the last 6 months with a mutual goal to negotiate a fair and balanced settlement package.
Sandpiper and OPA have entered into a mutually beneficial settlement that will offer an alternative solution for gas service to the residents of Ocean Pines. The settlement includes an agreement that provides Sandpiper with a perpetual, non-exclusive and uninterrupted easement and right-of-way for the purpose of the installation, operation and maintenance of the gas distribution system. Also included in the settlement are a land-lease agreement for a compressed natural gas injection facility and a services agreement where OPA will provide certain communication and coordination services to Sandpiper in support of the conversion process. While Sandpiper will be paying fees for the right-of-ways, the land lease and other services which OPA will provide, there will not be a monthly franchise fee paid by Sandpiper or billed to the Association or the residents. The next step will be to finalize the strategy for implementation, which will include public meetings planned for the first quarter of next year to discuss the conversion process for the Ocean Pines residents and OPA facilities. It is anticipated that the process will begin within the next 90 days.