For New Construction Services: It’s all conduit, all the time

by Carollyn Farrar, NW Natural Marketing Program Manager

After years of builders providing open trenches or conduit for service installations, NW Natural has modified its policy: NW Natural will now install services to new homes through conduit only and will no longer ask builders to leave a trench open.

At the same time, NW Natural will make it easier for builders and excavators to pick up conduit at local resource centers.

Regulators in two states have approved the change. NW Natural is asking builders to adopt the new procedure by Jan. 1, 2015.

Why the change? Today, more than 80 percent of all builders in our service area – and 90 percent in Oregon – already use conduit rather than leave an open trench. Unpredictable weather and erosion potential make open trenches risky from an environmental perspective, with the potential for violating local erosion control laws. Timing issues associated with open trenches can lead to miscommunication – and possible wasted trip charges for the builder.

Will the timing for new service hookups change? The overall timeline has not changed, but the process has been simplified. Once we receive notice that the conduit is in place NW Natural will install your service within seven business days (where permits are not required). Builders often install conduit when the foundation is laid to prevent construction delays.

How can we get the conduit? Before we asked for regulatory approval, we talked to a lot of you in the building community. Those of you providing open trenches asked us to make it easier for you to pick up conduit. Here’s how we plan to help.

  • Most Oregon resource centers will continue to provide conduit pickup between 7 and 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. In addition, you can now pick up conduit between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. every weekday at the Sherwood Operations and Training Center, 20285 SW Cipole Road in Sherwood, Oregon.
  • The Clark County Resource Center, 11218 NE 66th St., Vancouver, will offer conduit from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. every weekday. You can also arrange to pick up conduit outside the gate of the Clark County Resource Center during other times of the day by calling 360-571-5465, ext. 2070.
  • Visit NW Natural’s website to find the address and phone number of the nearest resource center for conduit pick up.

Questions? Visit the Builder Services page at NWNatural.com, or use the Builders Contacts page to find names and phone numbers of the resources you need.

And for those of you switching to conduit for new service installations, please let us know how the new system is working for you. This program applies to new construction services only.