Gas Utility History

The original gas system was purchased on an installment plan from a private company, Chanute Fuel and Light, in 1899 for $62,500. The private company had been in operation under a franchise granted two years earlier. Gas, at that time, was obtained from a large capacity gas well near Benedict.

Originally, the company did not desire to sell its plant. After failing in early negotiations to buy the system, City officials started a movement to build a new system to compete with the established concern. Chanute Fuel and Light finally gave in, deciding it could not compete profitably with the City, but the company remained in control of the system until the purchase price was paid. In 3-1/2 years the plant paid for itself.

Production, as well as distribution, was a part of the municipal gas business in the early days. Land and leases were acquired by the City along with the distribution system. The City entered into the drilling business extensively. One driller had an agreement whereby he drilled for oil on municipally-owned leases. Any gas wells he developed were turned over to the City, which paid only the cost of the wells it acquired.

The City continued to produce gas for its distribution system until 1909, when the last of the wells in the local fields were released by the officials. Since then, gas has been purchased from various pipeline companies and individual producers.

When Chanute first got into the municipal gas business, there was not a single meter in the City. Gas was sold at a flat monthly rate - 15 cents for a light and 75 cents for a stove, and customers usually computed their own bills. Gas lights were left burning in the daytime; stoves were in constant use and a consumer opened the door if the house became too warm. Meters were finally installed in 1907 and by 1909 all gas was sold at metered rates.

Beginning in the mid-1970's extensive repairs and improvements were made to the gas system including the replacement of 14 miles of distribution lines, upgrading from low pressure (1/2 lb. per square inch) to intermediate pressure (1-1/2 lb. per square inch) and installing customer regulators, and cathodic protection.

Beginning in 1992 natural gas has been purchased primarily from Kansas Municipal Gas Association and Constellation New Energy.

There are 93 miles of distribution mains in the system.