Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. representatives told the Mount Airy Town Council last night that the company plans to put natural gas in the first portion of the town's new gas line Saturday.
But it will be a while before the fuel reaches furnaces and ranges.
BGE began construction of the gas lines last fall after the council voted to allow the company to install natural gas lines and offer gas service within the town limits.
The completed lines run for two miles along Route 27 from the south side of Route 70 to Twin Arch Road and along Ridge Avenue, said Louis DeMay, a BGE senior account representative.
Even when the utility puts fuel into the lines Saturday, customers still won't be connected with gas service.
To connect customers, a pipe must be installed from the gas main to the actual service location -- house or business -- said Frank Wanken, a BGE spokesman.
Mr. DeMay said BGE has commercial customers at the Twin Arch and Mount Airy shopping centers.
But the company has not signed any residential customers.
Mr. Wanken said BGE expects to make its first residential connections in developments along Ridge Road.
Depending on the demand for service, BGE will extend the lines from Twin Arch Shopping Center along Watersville Road and install a line on East Ridgeville Boulevard across Main Street and into the Frederick side of Mount Airy.
"We'll do an economic test to see if it's feasible to extend the line," Mr. Wanken said.
The availability of natural gas in Mount Airy would provide more fuel choices to the town's nearly 4,000 residents who now use propane, oil or electricity.
BGE officials have said that the company's marketing surveys show that operators of restaurants and businesses in town are interested in using natural gas for heating and cooking.
To extend natural gas lines to residential areas requires a service commitment from 70 percent of the residents in a development.