Appalachian Basin

Leatherstocking Comes to Windsor, New York

What is Leatherstocking Gas Company?  It’s a gas distribution pipeline company formed by two other companies; Corning Natural Gas and Mirabito Holdings, Inc.  What does Leatherstocking do?  It operates small pipelines that distribute natural gas from larger systems directly to end users.  What doesn’t Leatherstocking do?  It does not develop, gather, store or process natural gas.  You’d think it’s pretty easy concept to grasp but some folks in Chenango and Delaware Counties, a distinct minority to be sure, simply don’t seem to get it.

Many towns in upstate New York already have in place the infrastructure system Leatherstocking is proposing for this area.  Thee benefits to local households and business alike are extensive from a cost savings perspective given the extraordinary value of natural gas as an economical heating fuel.  Unfortunately, many people do not understand what a company like Leatherstocking does and have been misled by opponents determined to make the Leatherstocking pipeline a referendum on Marcellus Shale development, as the following video from a public meeting that took place recently in Windsor, NY shows.

A relatively small number of residents on a mission to oppose natural gas development have shown up at public meetings to oppose the project.  My colleauge, Bill DesRosiers, reported on several of these meetings here, here, here and here, for example.   They seem not to care that, absent the project, fuel costs will be higher as will truck traffic in their area, precisely what they do not want.  A pipeline would also avoid interstate transportation charges attached to natural gas for heating.  Moreover, these pipeline will be lower pressure and,  therefore, there will  be no need for compressor stations.

Let’s take a look at what this pipeline actually looks like. This pipeline will be 30 inches below the surface of the road. The “backbone system” will be 4 inch piping. The pipes off of this, the “village system” will be 2 inch piping. Finally, the individual service will be between 1 inch and ½ inch. For some areas, the 4 inch piping won’t be needed and the backbone will be made up of 2 inch piping, moving to the 1 inch piping and finishing to the home in ½ inch piping.  Does any of this sound like a system that will, in any way, negatively affect the communities it serves?  Hardly!

People who have converted their propane systems to natural gas have saved approximately $2,250 per year and the conversion is relatively simple. Those who have converted their fuel oil systems to natural gas have saved approximately $1,800 per year.  Is there something the opponents of this project don’t like about saving money?  One might suspect so, but the truth is that this is simply a matter of putting ideology ahead of reason and natural gas opponents are nothing if not ideological.

Natural gas is also a more efficient source of energy. About 92% of the natural gas produced is delivered to the consumer as usable energy, comparing to only 32% for coal. No energy is lost in conversion of natural gas to energy while 61% of the energy is lost in converting coal.  By the time it reaches the home for use only 32% of the total amount taken from the source will be available. This pipeline would provide these benefits to approximately 400-450 people in the town, village and public schools of Windsor, New York.

The New York State Public Service Commission will regulate the Leatherstocking pipeline and there is a 24/7 emergency response system along with an emergency call center.

Most importantly, this pipeline will come at no cost to the community. The main, service, and meter installation would be free. The pipeline, which would run on the shoulder of the road, would be placed and covered at the expense of Leatherstocking but to realize these benefits, a franchise agreement with the town will need to be negotiated.

As Leatherstocking has gone to towns and presented information on their project, support has grown and more and more residents have attended meetings to support the project, demonstrating the importance of public education.  Indeed, one might say the company has been a real “Pathfinder” in the tradition of Natty Bumppo, the first “Leatherstocking” for whom it is named.



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