New Milford turns out for gas info

Leatherstocking's Russ Miller spoke with over 100 New Milford borough and township residents who turned out Friday night for an information meeting about the feasibility of bringing local gas service to the New Milford area. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Leatherstocking’s Russ Miller spoke with over 100 New Milford borough and township residents who turned out Friday night for an information meeting about the feasibility of bringing local gas service to the New Milford area. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

BY STACI WILSON

The absence of an “anchor customer” for a natural gas line has not hampered New Milford’s quest to have the service available in the community.

But in order to bring gas to the New Milford area, franchise holder Leatherstocking Gas Company needs about 180 residents to commit to natural gas.

The initial plan was to run the gas line from the compressor station located off Sutton Road, in New Milford Twp., and to the Blue Ridge School District. But school officials have opted to remain with its wood chip heating system and don’t plan to use gas as a heating source.

Leatherstocking Vice President Russell Miller said that after it was determined Blue Ridge would not serve as an anchor, the company decided to take another look at servicing New Milford because he said, “They’re upset. And they went to bat for us when we asked them to.”

New Milford Borough offered its support to Leatherstocking when the company was looking to obtain the franchise from the Pennsylvania Utility Commission.

Miller introduced his company to the large crowd and provided attendees with a snapshot look at the company’s history and the regulations governing local gas distribution in Pennsylvania.

The Corning, N.Y. based company began to look at branching into the state after they realized that a few miles south of their headquarters that natural gas was prolific, there were people who lived in the area and no distribution service existed in the area, Miller said.

Miller also spoke to the residents about the natural gas service, detailing charges in the company’s billing statement.

“Conversion costs vary,” Miller told the crowd, and suggested that anyone interested in hooking up to the natural gas line consult with a HVAC professional to determine actual conversion costs.

Miller compared to fuel oil and propane, with natural gas and factored in the cost to convert appliances or heating systems, “You will save money with the switch, but some may take longer than others.”

Last fall, Miller said that commitments from Montrose Area Jr./Sr. High School and the Endless Mountains Health Systems facility justified the running of six miles of pipe from the Central Compressor Station. Customers along the route began hooking up in October.

“We’ve save the (customers) $400,000 over what they would have paid for fuel oil or propane this past season,” Miller said.

John Cherundolo, the company’s first residential hook-up, said that in four months of bills, he has almost saved the entire cost of his $3,100 conversion to natural gas.

Leatherstocking plans to branch its service into Montrose Borough this year, and Miller said the company would hope to be in New Milford in 2015.