Press-Republican

March 12, 2013

Editorial: Natural-gas possibilities

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Press-Republican

---- — Alternative-energy opportunities, especially natural gas, are growing, propelled by local, state and federal initiatives. It would be wise for local residents to explore these options, which could reduce household costs.

As part of a New York Energy Highway initiative, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants the Public Service Commission to expand opportunities for natural-gas service across the state. And President Obama focused on alternative energy in his inaugural address, which bears promise for future funding.

Here in the North Country, wind-energy projects are already established, and natural gas is stretching its way into more communities. Franklin County will soon have natural-gas service as Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas builds a 48-mile pipeline between Norfolk and Chateaugay.

The Town of Plattsburgh has led the way in pressing New York State Electric and Gas to increase natural-gas service to more areas of that community. Natural gas is already hooked up in some businesses and homes in Plattsburgh, and town officials want to see it available to more residences.

The Cumberland Head Taxpayers Association, sometimes at odds with town officials on matters of money, is also on board with the idea of expanding natural gas.

NYSEG is surveying potential customers, and meetings are being held to answer questions about the new option. Residents can find out more at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the new Fire Station on Cumberland Head.

It’s important that people who want this option show their support. Town Deputy Supervisor Martin Mannix says that having a strong supply of customers is essential to securing service.

The savings could be substantial. Some Cumberland Head residents tell us they spend $3,000, $3,500, even $4,000 a year on fuel oil for heating. And they enviously listen to residents in Cliff Haven, another section of the town, who say they are paying $60 or $70 a month for natural gas.

Besides being less expensive, natural gas is more environmentally friendly, and an abundant supply is available, thanks to a pipeline that runs along Interstate 87 from the Quebec border to Plattsburgh.

Some people are concerned about startup costs, so the town is working on a public/private partnership, possibly with UFirst Federal Credit Union, that could help with the cost of conversion to natural-gas equipment.

While we don’t recommend any particular energy method, we certainly do encourage local homeowners to check into whether natural gas would be an economical option. NYSEG and town officials say that for some users it could be one-third the cost of propane, fuel oil or electricity.

All people have to do is go to the Cumberland Head meeting tomorrow or fill out the 10-question survey, due Thursday, at townofplattsburgh.com or nyseg.com/gastplatts.

It might pay off for them and the environment.