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All systems go for new pipeline

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MALONE - All systems are go with the new 48-mile St. Lawrence Gas pipeline that will extend from Norfolk in St. Lawrence County to Chateaugay.

James Ward, the fuel company’s assistant general manager, reported to the Franklin County Legislature Thursday that all approvals needed have been obtained and that construction is set to begin in mid-August.

The overall cost of the project is $41 million, with Franklin County contributing $1.75 million. The Empire State Development Corporation gave $2.5 million through a grant. A contribution of $17.3 million will come from St. Lawrence Gas, with a possibility of more since Mr. Ward has said the company will likely increase its own funds as well as seek contributions from customers in the form of a temporary surcharge.

The cost of the project includes the main pipeline along with distribution pipes branches.

Mr. Ward said at Thursday’s meeting that with construction beginning in August, the company hopes to reach Malone by the end of the year. Next year, the pipeline will continue on to Chateaugay along with building pipelines for side streets.

Natural gas is an alternative energy source that may be beneficial to the area, according to Mr. Ward. He said that propane, wood and fuel oil are the most common sources for homeowners to heat their houses.

“This just gives them a different choice,” he said.

However, this alternative choice could save homeowners $1,100 during one season, Mr. Ward said.

The pipeline will be built underground and will go through some private properties, according to Mr. Ward. He said St. Lawrence Gas was able to negotiate easements – stipends for allowing construction on property – with property owners and that most of them were agreeable, Mr. Ward said the company was able to gain access to property even if the owners did not agree through eminent domain laws.

“It’s not something we wished to do,” Mr. Ward said of using eminent domain for property access. “The goal is to make everyone happy with us.”

Board of Legislators Chairman Gordon Crossman (D-Malone) had praise for the project.

“We’re ecstatic about the news we’ve received,” he said.

Mr. Crossman thanked the entire board of legislators, but especially Legislator Tim Smith (D-Fort Covington), who has worked on the project for seven years, and Jim Feeley, retired county manager, for their hard work.

Other legislators spoke of the benefits of the pipeline.

“This project is huge,” Legislator Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said. “It’s huge for our county. It’s an economic development project for our county. I think we’ll see ramifications of this for years to come.”

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