External Affairs Coordinator, Cabot Oil & Gas
The following is an interview Bill desRosiers recently conducted with Russ Miller, Vice President of Gas Supply and Marketing and a Managing Board Member for Leatherstocking Gas Company.
For those of you who don’t know Leatherstocking Gas Company is the newest natural gas utility in Pennsylvanian in forty years. It received authorization to serve parts of Susquehanna and Bradford County in September 2012. The Company is Joint Venture between Corning Natural Gas Holding Corporation and Mirabito Holdings Inc.
Leatherstocking Gas Company started building its system a few years ago. How large is the Leatherstocking Gas Company system in Susquehanna and Bradford Counties now?
As of July, Leatherstocking Gas Company has installed 16 miles of pipe in Susquehanna County. The system currently serves 135 residential, 33 commercial and 11 public authority customers in the Bridgwater/Montrose area. And 81 additional customers are scheduled for connection on this system by November 2015.
In Elk Lake we serve the Elk Lake School Complex, which includes K-12 facilities, the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center, and the districts pool complex. 5 residential customers are currently connected in Elk Lake but we expect this to grow to 30 by next spring. Also we serve the Pennsy Asphalt facility in Lawton.
In Bradford County Leatherstocking Gas Company serves the Cargill Meat Packing facility in Wyalusing Township and we have plans to serve the Borough in 2017.
What are projects are currently under construction?
We continue to add pipe in the Borough of Montrose. Our next large project is in the Borough of New Milford. Leatherstocking Gas Company expects to begin construction in August 2015. We have commitments from 181 customers to take gas service within six months of having access to natural gas.
From time to time I get questions about Leatherstocking Gas Company and when it will expand into places like Great Bend and Susquehanna Depot, what if any plans do you have?
Leatherstocking Gas Company will ultimately expand into all the areas it was granted a franchise in within the next 5 to 10 years. Once we build in an area we continue to expand as long as customers continue to desire service. Each year since building to the Montrose JSHS and new Hospital Leatherstocking Gas Company has added onto the system. This will continue until most of the systems are connected to each other. So if you live near SR 29 between Dimock and Montrose chances are good you will have gas service. The same can be said about 706 between New Milford and Montrose.
What companies do you work with to source the natural gas in your system?
The majority of our supply is from Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation. We also buy from Southwestern Energy. On the pipeline side we work with Williams to move the natural gas from the operators to our local distribution systems. Leatherstocking Gas Company has been treated very well by each of these companies. They are in business to make money as we all are; however, when you work with these companies it becomes very clear that they have the interest of the communities they live in as a fundamental objective. They know the resource can save people money and stimulate long term economic benefit. They want to facilitate that and it shows, allowing us to pass the most affordable natural gas to our customers.
What are your customers typically using the natural gas for and how much are they saving on average compared to other fuel sources?
Our customers typically use the natural gas services for heating, water heaters, cooking, and clothes dryers. On average our customers spend less than any other energy source.
In terms of savings, we charge $1.38 per Ccf. The average customer uses 1000 Ccf a year, so that’s works out to $1380 a year. Recognizing that propane and fuel oil are more susceptible to price changes driven by the international market, savings over the last two years in in switching to natural gas has been anywhere from $1000 to $2000.
How has the community been to work in?
In a word GREAT! Everyone has been willing to work with us. Leatherstocking Gas Company was asked by County Commissioner Mary Ann Warren to come serve the community as a natural gas utility. Commissioners Warren and Alan Hall along with the Townships and Borough governments have been great to work with.
What are you biggest issue/concerns?
Customer education and safety! Most people even in places with long histories of natural gas service don’t think much about what’s in the ground and don’t really look at the bills they pay. So before you dig even in your own backyard make sure you call 811 at least 48 hrs before your project and have the utilities marked out. It’s a free service and it may save your life or, at least, prevent a service interruption for you and your neighbors. Also if you have questions about your bill call us, we can help.
Here is our contact information:
Leatherstocking Gas Company
498 South Main St. Suite “C”
Montrose PA. 18801
(570) 278-5863 or (570) 278-1304
In closing do you have anything you would like to say?
Leatherstocking Gas Company will be in the community for a very long time. We will continue to grow with the community and we are looking forward to continuing to serve “Local Gas to Local People”.
More about Leatherstocking Gas Company LLC
Leatherstocking Gas Company LLC is a joint venture between Corning Natural Gas Corporation and Mirabito Holdings, Inc. and is a gas distribution company, regulated by the Public Service Commission. Together we have over 190 years in serving the region with natural gas and other energy products. Currently Corning is directly connected to the Marcellus production area in Tioga County PA. To date 63% of the gas on our system comes from these interconnects.