Appalachian Basin

Local Natural Gas for Local People: A Leatherstocking Tale

Mike Petro is a graduate of Vestal Senior High School and currently a student at Broome Community College (BCC) working towards an AS in Environmental Science.  He has been accepted at Binghamton University for the Fall 2013 semester, where he looks to obtain a bachelors degree in Environmental Studies: Policy and Law.   He is currently enrolled in BCC’s Community Internship course and is interning with the Vestal Gas Coalition.  He will be submitting a series of posts on the natural gas industry.  Here’s his first.

Local natural gas for local people. That’s the message of Leatherstocking Gas Company, a joint venture between Corning Natural Gas Corporation and Mirabito Holdings Inc., who in a recent presentation to the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) laid out their plans to provide the rural areas of Northern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier, once neglected by local utilities, with affordable, clean burning, locally produced natural gas.

Leatherstocking Gas Company (LGC) has been in operation as a Local Gas Distribution Company since September 27, 2012, and as such is fully regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and New York State Public Service Commission.  Operating exclusively as a natural gas distribution company means LGC does not work to drill, harvest, or collect natural gas in the area.

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Instead, the company relies on the already existing gas wells and pipelines throughout Pennsylvania and New York to tap into, from which they build the additional pipe infrastructure necessary to reach currently un-served or underserved local communities. This infrastructure is comprised of LGC’s state of the art High Density Polyethylene pipe, which allows for a maximum operating pressure of 124psi, meaning the gas being brought to these rural areas is usable in all facets from light industry to residential heating, cooking, and water heating.

The installation of these high-pressure main lines is overseen by state inspectors.  They are clearly marked and appropriately buried 3-5 feet underground, surrounded with a layer of fine sand, and under constant pressure monitoring. In addition, all LGC employees and sub-contractors are drug tested and have passed numerous written and practical examinations to ensure installation, monitoring, and repair are kept to the utmost standards.

Because LGC works to utilize already existing natural gas sources, their current and planned service areas are communities in close proximity to gas wells or pipelines (such as the Constitution), to the point where only several miles of new pipe will be necessary to reach the community.  Ideally, these are rural communities with reasonably high population density, normally consisting of a few high volume consumers such as industrial or municipal buildings like schools.

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The benefits to the communities that are already serviced or pending service by Leatherstocking Gas Co. are numerous. First and foremost, the benefits that most appeal to consumers are large reductions in energy costs. LGC co-founder Mike German stated in his recent presentation to the JLCNY that the typical residential consumer (100MMBtu annually) could expect their home heating bill to be reduced by up to 66%.  This yields, for the average home using 100MMbtu annually at $11.00 MMBTU, a yearly home heating cost of $1,100, in sharp comparison to the other heating options which include electricity ($3,224 at .11¢Kwh), oil ($2,834 at $3.94 gal), and propane ($3,155 at $2.89 gal).

These savings also translate into lower school taxes, as the schools utilize LGC’s locally sourced, affordable natural gas for heating significantly reducing their energy costs.  Similar benefits accrue in reducing other related local tax burdens.  LGC’s operations also stimulate construction and industry jobs as they hire new employees and sub-contractors for the installation of new natural gas infrastructure in local communities.

Additionally jobs are saved and created through the businesses and municipalities saving on their energy costs, allowing them to operate price competitively while investing in their staff.  All of these benefits enable local, rural communities to enjoy significant energy cost savings.  This, in turn, allows reallocation of community tax funds, contributing to the area’s improved social and economic development.

Corning Natural Gas Corporation and Mirabito Holdings Inc. have over 190 combined years of industry experience right here in our area. This gives Leatherstocking Gas Company both the knowledge and presence necessary to further develop our area’s natural gas infrastructure, allowing local residents the opportunity to benefit from natural gas – one of our area’s abundant resources.

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