SaskEnergy is permanently cutting off natural gas service to dozens of properties in the Last Mountain Lake area amid safety concerns over ground shifts.

The move announced Tuesday affects about 250 property owners in six communities, or about 16 per cent of SaskEnergy customers in the area.

The Crown-owned natural gas utility has been monitoring ground movement in the area. Since the summer of 2014, SaskEnergy says crews have found underground gas leaks in the impacted zones at “significantly” higher rates compared to the provincial average.

“We understand this will be difficult for these customers, but their safety and that of the communities we serve must come first,” SaskEnergy president and CEO Ken From said in a news release.

“Significant ground shifting is continuing in isolated zones within these communities and, despite extensive infrastructure upgrades, SaskEnergy can no longer safely serve customers in those zones.”

Impacted customers at Regina Beach, Buena Vista, Saskatchewan Beach, Shore Acres, Sundale and Craven are being contacted directly by SaskEnergy and will have until Sept. 5, 2017 to transition their home’s natural gas appliances to another fuel source.

In 2015, SaskEnergy disconnected service to 30 customers in the area, due to the impacts on its pipeline infrastructure from ground movement.

“Our geotechnical data indicates minimal ground movement elsewhere in these communities and the rest of Last Mountain Lake,” From said.

“We will continue to monitor slope movement throughout the region to ensure we can provide safe and reliable service to our customers.”

SaskEnergy says it will offer a “fuel transition allowance" to affected property owners to assist them in transitioning appliances to alternate fuel sources. Customers in the Last Mountain Lake area can get more information by calling 1-844-465-9722.