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PENNS MANOR: Gas line project advances

by on June 06, 2014 10:50 AM

CLYMER — A proposed gas line intended for use by the Penns Manor School District could also bring heat to the surrounding Kenwood community.

In an informational meeting held Thursday at the high school, acting Superintendent Daren Johnston announced the district is moving forward to put in a natural gas line for heating purposes for the district. A representative for Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania outlined the construction of the gas line and what it means for those who may wish to tap in.

The idea to bring a gas line to the school was first proposed in September 2012. The line will cost the district approximately $600,000 as an initial investment, according to business Manager Dave Kudlaweic. The district is expecting to save about $125,000 a year by switching to gas heating, meaning the district should break even within five years.

“Anyone located along (the line) has the luxury of getting gas if you want it,” said Mike Belsky Jr., new business development manager for Columbia.

The line leading to the district will tap into an existing line handled by Columbia Gas Transmission and will follow Route 403 approximately 8,000 feet south to the high school. The line is expected to terminate at the north end of the school.

“Basically what we’ve done, based on the school district’s request, is we’ve requested that we can actually put a hole in their line,” Belsky said. Due to regulations and the pressure in the line, the tapping will be handled by Columbia Gas Transmission itself.

Once the line is tapped, an apparatus will be placed on the line and construction on the new line can begin. Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania is planning on installing a 6-inch pipe to carry 60 pounds of pressure.

“That’s a lot of gas for a lot of usage,” Belsky said. “We’re trying to prepare for the future.”

At this point, according to Belsky, the team is waiting on a highway occupancy permit. They anticipate that to clear in two weeks, then the installation can begin.

“You probably won’t see a lot of activity on 403,” Belsky said. “It’s not like you’re going to see a bunch of dozers out there digging this up, because they’re going to be doing what is called directional drilling.”

In directional drilling, according to Belsky, a series of holes will be dug straight down at 400- to 500-foot intervals. A computer-driven machine will then dig an underground path between the holes where the piping will be threaded through.

The project is expected to be completed by Aug. 15. The goal is to have the line completed and the school ready to be heated before the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.

Residents who live directly along the line itself as well as those living further downstream will have opportunities to tap into the line should they want gas heating in their homes or businesses as well.

If a resident or business is located directly along the main line, essentially right along Route 403, and Columbia can secure that location with a service line only, a deposit will come back to the school. If the line must be run farther than that or if an additional line must be installed, the school would not receive any additional money.

Belsky explained that since the district paid the initial deposit for the main line, there would be no out-of-pocket expenses to provide homes along that line with gas. The homes would basically share the expense with the district and there would be no cost to tap into the main line. If a home farther off the main line wanted to have gas, it would be viewed as a new project with its own costs and additional deposits required, meaning no money would go to the school.

Belsky stressed that the opportunity to get gas is available to anyone, regardless of the distance from the main line.

“That was one of our goals, to have the infrastructure in this neck of the woods,” said board President Robert Packer.

If an individual were interested in converting to gas, a representative of Columbia could consult them free-of-charge. If the individual is farther away from the line with houses in between, Belsky advised talking to neighbors to see if they would want to share a line. Each individual location may have a different fee, depending on pipe size, loads and number of people using the service. The information regarding usage would be calculated, and if revenue exceeded usage, the line could be put in for no cost.

“When you’re looking at converting, look at your potential savings,” Belsky said. “Everyone gets slapped with the investment, it’s going to be thousands of dollars. But when you look at your savings, your payback to break even could be literally a year or less.”

The size of the service lines would depend on load, distance and pressure. A small home would possibly only require a 1-inch pipe, while a commercial operation may use something larger.

Service lines could be installed by a subcontractor, but they must be operator qualified. Once installed, a card would be hung from the home’s meter indicating it was installed by an OQ contractor.

For more information or to set up a consultation, Belsky said, residents can call (800) 440-6111, then choose the prompt for Pennsylvania.

Jeremy Hartley is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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