MALONE — Thursday’s bright sunshine matched the mood at the ceremonial groundbreaking for a $41 million natural-gas pipeline project in Franklin County.
Past and present legislators, Sen. Betty Little, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and officials from Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas, Agri-Mark McCadam Cheese and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council converged in Malone to thank and praise each other for the seven-plus years of teamwork and dedication it took to bring the 48-mile transmission system from the Town of Norfolk in St. Lawrence County to the Village of Chateaugay.
“This is a transformational day for Franklin County,” said Garry Douglas, co-chair of the Economic Development Council and executive director of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
Douglas said natural gas is an abundant North American product that is environmentally responsible and more affordable than fossil fuels or electricity.
“It’s more efficient, and it’s nearby. We just have to get it where it’s needed,” he said.
James Pratt, vice president of operations at Agri-Mark McCadam, said natural gas will preserve more than 100 existing jobs at the Chateaugay plant and create a foundation for expansion.
“This is great for the community and great for the dairy-farm owners,” he said. “Nobody knows for sure a year from now what the price of oil or gas is going to be, but our best guess is the value of natural gas will save us $1 million a year.”
Jim Ward, assistant general manager of Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas, thanked all of the government officials who helped convince stakeholders to support the project and push it forward when momentum slowed or stalled.
“I always say I’m amazed at the support this project has for 10 years, no matter who we talked to,” he said. “This is a community celebration. I’ve never seen a public and private partnership and all of the communities involved coming together so we could do this.”