Local News

May 25, 2009

Grant for pipeline sought

Franklin County seeks funds for natural-gas plan

MALONE — Franklin County will spend $5,750 to try to secure millions in grant money to close the remaining funding gap for a proposed $20 million natural-gas pipeline.

Applications are being accepted for a portion of a $120 million pool of money available to upstate entities through the Regional Blueprint Program, which is part of a $1 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund administered by Empire State Development Corp.

Specified areas where funding could be awarded include infrastructure such as transportation, water and sewer, communication, and energy generation and distribution projects.

The deadline for first-round funding applications is June 15, which is why legislators hurriedly approved a resolution Thursday to hire Camoin Associates for $5,500 to create and submit its application and pay the $250 application fee.

The grant awards are to be announced Aug. 17.

County Manager James Feeley said the county's application will be as thick "as a Manhattan phone book," but it could secure millions for the project that developers hope to start by 2010.

St. Lawrence Gas has pledged $13 million toward the project, which would expand its existing pipeline from the Town of Stockholm in St. Lawrence County for 48 miles east into Franklin County to the Village of Chateaugay.

The plan is to secure natural-gas service from large-volume users such as area prisons, school districts, industries and eventually homeowners.

In addition to the company's commitment, Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) has secured $2 million, and Franklin County has promised $1.452 million.

St. Lawrence County has been asked to contribute toward the project — possibly about $748,000 — but legislators there are still discussing it.

Blueprint-program funds could provide at least the final $3.75 million needed.

In the meantime, St. Lawrence Gas is continuing its environmental studies and other preliminary work the state requires for permission to build.

The company must demonstrate to the Public Service Commission that the pipeline can produce a 7.77-percent profit in its first five years.

It must also secure payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements with the taxing entities touched by the expansion.

E-mail Denise A. Raymo at:

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