The Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce announced last week it had made application to the state Department of Community and Economic Development for a $1 million grant to cover pipeline costs of getting gas to the Tunkhannock market.
Chamber President Gina Suydam noted that although Wyoming County is a natural gas producing county, thanks to the Marcellus shale, “Much of the natural gas produced is being shipped out of the county instead of being utilized where it is produced.”
Suydam said the Chamber has taken a leadership role in trying to “fix” that, and has discovered that one of the most significant hurdles is how to utilize the locally produced gas right in the community of Tunkhannock.
She said she was certain that homes, businesses, the county courthouse, and the Tunkhannock Area School District would benefit greatly from using natural gas to minimize their energy costs; however, the cost of extending natural gas to a rural community is significant.
Suydam said the Tunkhannock Natural Gas Extension Project is a partnership with UGI, Wyoming County, the Chamber and potential customers.
The overall project cost has been estimated at $2,835,000, with UGI Energy Services projected to put up a significant share of the costs, roughly 49 percent of the overall total in the amount of $1.4 million.
UGI spokesman Dan Brominski said Tuesday that through its GET Gas program - with the GET meaning Growth Extension Tariff - there were three criteria that needed to be met.
First, the cost needed to be greater than $15,000, and second it was assumed that UGI would be getting more than 50 percent of the natural gas market share. The third item, Brominski said, was the tough one, and that dealt with the fact that the expected customer cost must be less than $10,000.
“Tunkhannock did not pass here,” Brominski said, “so we went to the Chamber and elsewhere to see if grant monies might be available.”
Suydam said, “Extending natural gas will enhance economic development as it will lower energy costs of its users and will assist Tunkhannock Area High School with its energy costs.”
The program calls for the installation of 18,000 feet of 8” high density pipe, and when completed would extend natural gas to developable properties in Tunkhannock, 13 current businesses, the Tunkhannock Area School District and the county courthouse.
A secondary goal of the project is extending natural gas to homes along the route.