Marcellus Gas Delivers Cheaper Energy to Rural Pennsylvanians
Wood furnaces and propane or oil tanks are common sights in rural Pennsylvania. For the most part, it’s how residents have heated their homes for generations, but that’s starting to change thanks to the Marcellus Shale.
For anyone who has had to get up at 3 a.m. to put more wood on the fire in the dead of winter, the thought of being able to access heat at a finger touch has at least crossed the mind a time or two. And not to one of the two settings wood provides—roasting or freezing—but actually being able to choose a 70 degree home, which is possible with natural gas.
With a lack of pipeline infrastructure in rural communities, though, the concept of piping in natural gas hasn’t been an affordable option for rural residents. But now with the Marcellus Shale and a surplus of natural gas being produced in the state, the same rural communities that are producing gas for the country, are finally gaining access to it in their own homes.
Republican Pennsylvania Senator Gene Yaw began working on passing legislation in 2012 to bring greater access to his district which includes rural communities in Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Union Counties—some of the highest Marcellus producing counties in the state. From his December 2012 press release:
“According to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, only 51 percent of Pennsylvania homes are heated with natural gas,” Senator Yaw said. “Certainly, the lack of natural gas service is a hardship for citizens in Pennsylvania who are required to purchase more expensive heating sources simply because of a lack of natural gas distribution infrastructure. Expanding that infrastructure is critically important to providing consumers with the best energy value, both now and into the future.”
And while legislation is still being worked out to help consumers gain access to this infrastructure, some companies have already begun to expand their services into rural Pennsylvania.
Leatherstocking Gas Company, a New York company created through a partnership between Corning Natural Gas Corporation and Mirabito Energy Services, received permission from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) in 2012 to hook up residents in Susquehanna County with natural gas. It was the first time natural gas could be used in the county where some of the highest producing wells in the country are located. EID covered this back when it occurred in 2012.
The latest rural community to receive natural gas service will be Tunkhannock in Wyoming County thanks to a 10 year plan with UGI. Wyoming County has also seen an increase in natural gas development, but never had the ability to connect it to homes and businesses because of the high cost of installing infrastructure. PUC approved a five year plan to make this a reality last year.
According to the GetGas website, the company is also looking for additional customers within the Marcellus Shale in Loyalsock Township in Lycoming County. But the program will also benefit communities outside of the Marcellus in Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties where new pipeline plans are underway to bring Marcellus gas to those regions. And according to UGI’s website, this will mean big savings for consumers:
This is just one more way all Pennsylvanians can benefit from the natural gas development in the state, including communities that have never had access to the same utilities as cities like Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.