SKOWHEGAN, Maine, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Summit Natural Gas of Maine and Sappi Fine Paper North America announced today an agreement in principle to establish natural gas service to the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, Maine, in one of the largest natural gas distribution projects of its kind in the recent history of Maine. Summit's investment of $350 million in pipeline infrastructure will provide the mill access to efficient natural gas, supporting Sappi's low-cost position and commitment to sustainability well into the future.
"The opportunity to utilize natural gas is essential to maintain the competitive cost position of our Somerset Mill and is another example of our investment in the State of Maine," said Mark Gardner, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sappi Fine Paper North America. "We look forward to working with Summit to establish access to clean, economical natural gas, which we foresee will ultimately reduce fuel costs, be better for the environment, and ensure the long-term profitability of our operations."The project, which is subject to regulatory and other approvals, consists of Summit constructing 88 miles of steel pipeline originating in Richmond, Maine and traveling up through the Kennebec Valley to Madison and Skowhegan. In addition to this proposed project with Sappi, Summit plans to serve 17 communities in the region upon total system build-out with the installation of approximately 1600 miles of polyethylene distribution pipeline. Sappi's firm participation in the project is subject to certain corporate capital approvals. "Sappi is one of the largest employers in Maine," said Tim Johnston, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Summit Natural Gas of Maine. "This service agreement would provide us with an important commitment to advance our effort to deliver natural gas to Central Maine, creating the opportunity for a significant reduction in energy costs to Sappi and the surrounding communities." About Summit Natural Gas of Maine Summit Natural Gas of Maine, Inc. is a subsidiary of Summit Utilities, Inc. Summit Utilities, Inc. acts as a holding company that owns and operates Summit Natural Gas of Maine, Inc.; Colorado Natural Gas, Inc.; Summit Natural Gas of Missouri, Inc.; and Wolf Creek Energy LLC. The company's natural gas subsidiaries construct, install and operate natural gas distribution systems in order to provide natural gas to residential, commercial and industrial customers. About Sappi Fine Paper North AmericaSappi Fine Paper North America, known for innovation and quality, is a preeminent North American producer of coated fine and release papers and market pulp headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Its coated fine papers, with highly recognized brand names such as McCoy, Opus, Somerset and Flo, are used in premium magazines, catalogs, books and high-end print advertising. The company is also the world's leading supplier of release papers for the automotive, fashion and engineered films industries, including the globally recognized Ultracast brand. Sappi's release papers provide the surface aesthetics for synthetic fabrics used in footwear, clothing, upholstery and accessories, as well as the textures for decorative laminates found in kitchens, baths, flooring and other decorative surfaces. An integrated pulp and paper producer, with state-of-the-art pulp mills, Sappi is the third largest seller of hardwood pulp in North America. Sappi Fine Paper North America is a subsidiary of Sappi Limited (NYSE, JSE), a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with over 14,000 employees and manufacturing operations on three continents in seven countries and customers in over 100 countries around the world. Learn more about Sappi at: www.sappi.com/na For further information: Michael A. DuguayDirector of Business Development207-447-0657 firstname.lastname@example.orgSummit Natural Gas of Maine Joanna RiekeManager, Corporate CommunicationsSappi Fine Paper North AmericaOffice: 617-423-5409 email@example.com SOURCE Sappi Fine Paper North America