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Growing customer base fuels Enstar

Posted: Saturday, March 02, 2002

Enstar finished off the year at the end of a decade-long growth streak that doesn't appear to be dwindling any time soon.

The company is rapidly approaching a customer base of 10,000 by adding 300 to 325 new customers every year for an average growth of 3 percent.

"We've had some really good growth. We're pleased," said Charlie Pierce, division manager of Enstar on the Kenai Peninsula. "And we are planning on having our normal 3 percent growth next year, too. I don' t see any reason to think we wouldn't."

Thus far, Enstar has not felt any effects from the events of Sept. 11. Although its growth is fueled in a large part by the construction industry, which, in turn, tends to fluctuate with the economy, Pierce said people continue to want natural gas in their homes.

Enstar at a glance

Company headquarters: Anchorage

Division manager: Charlie Pierce

Number of peninsula employees: 15

Production for 2001: 310 new customers on the peninsula

Local contact: 262-9334

Web site: www.semcoenergy.com/enstar.html

Company outlook: Enstar continued a 10-year growth trend in 2001 with plans to duplicate it in 2002 along with expansion to the southern Kenai Peninsula.

"When gas is available you try to acquire it because it is to your advantage as far as the low cost fuel savings," he said.

A large portion of Enstar's business comes from conversions in already existing homes, but the remainder is dependent on newly built residences.

"When the economy suffers, we suffer. People tend to be more conservative. If new construction slows down then, yes, we will slow down," Pierce said.

However, Enstar continues to have a healthy presence on the peninsula, Pierce said.

Despite what may be a downturn in the economy, people are still converting to or choosing natural gas even if it means saving up money for the service.

Enstar may not be driving the economy on the peninsula, but it supplies natural gas that appears to be in substantial demand, if the company's sustained growth is a correct reflection. As always, the company has an eye on expansion.

The company will be adding lines toward the Tote Road and Echo Lake areas off the Sterling Highway south of Soldotna. And in a partnership with Kenai Kachemak Pipeline LLC -- a combination of Marathon Oil and Unocal -- and Homer Electric Association, Enstar will be part of the operation of a natural gas pipeline to the southern peninsula.

In the meantime, Enstar seems to be happy on the peninsula even if nationally the economy might reflect a less-than-friendly atmosphere to do business in.

"I'm not a doom-and-gloom kind of guy," Pierce said. "The peninsula is a wonderful place to be. The quality of life in and of itself attracts people."

And those people need what Enstar has to offer.

"We don't go around beating doors down. The only thing we have to sell is the services we provide," Pierce said.



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