Shale Gas Pipeline Delivers Good News for Windsor, NY Taxpayers

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Jim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News

 

Windsor, New York is the home of Marcellus Drilling News and Jim Willis, MDN’s owner, reports on what is some very good news, indeed, as shale gas and pipelines are delivering huge savings for taxpayers in that area – something that just doesn’t happen in upstate New York that often. 

Last October, MDN told you about the Town of Windsor (where we write from!) in Broome County, NY, along the border of Pennsylvania. Windsor saw a new 9-mile section of natural gas pipeline and a compressor station go online, and the tax revenue from that small project was enough to lower the property and school taxes for everyone in the town. We asked/continue to ask the question–when was the last time you heard about school and property taxes in any NY community going down? Yeah, we’ve never heard of it either.

Well, there is still more good news for those of us fortunate enough to live in the Town of Windsor: A regional gas distribution company is building smaller pipelines locally and by 2014, the local high school, one of the local elementary schools and the town hall will all be hooked up and heating with natural gas.

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Windsor Middle School

The estimated savings to taxpayers are an incredible $350,000 per year.  This would seem to be the missed opportunity Anna Marie Lusins was talking about when she wrote here yesterday. Thank you Marcellus Shale and the miracle of hydraulic fracturing. And, thank you pipelines and compressor plants…

By fall 2014, three buildings in the Town of Windsor — the town hall, Windsor High School and A.F. Palmer Elementary School — could have access to natural gas.

The estimated savings: At least $350,000 a year.

Laser Northeast Gathering Co., a Houston-based company, constructed a 9.8-mile portion of a pipeline in Windsor that connects Marcellus Shale natural gas wells to the Millennium Pipeline, a major transmission line that runs across portions of the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley and connects to major markets in the Northeast. A compression station was also built in Windsor. Both the pipeline and compression station became operational in 2012, said Carolyn Price, Town of Windsor supervisor. Williams, a natural gas company, now owns the pipeline and compression station.

Price said Leatherstocking Gas Company, a gas distribution company and joint venure between Corning Natural Gas Corp. and Mirabito Holdings Inc., plans to start putting in lines in the Town of Windsor by next summer and complete work by the time school starts for the 2014-15 year.

“We do have to get through another winter on our more expensive resources,” Price added.

Natural gas pipelines were the focus of a nearly hour-long discussion inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Binghamton. Over their morning eggs and coffee, about 40 area business leaders and officials digested the issue that could soon affect the local economy. Three guest speakers detailed how access to low-cost natural gas can be a valuable economic development tool in the Southern Tier by proving new tax revenue to local governments.

The Town of Windsor is already experiencing some of those benefits.

The 2013 assessment on both the pipeline and compression station in Windsor totals $29.8 million, Price said. She credited natural gas for tax-rate reductions of 5.8 percent to the school and 8 percent to the town.

Four Windsor residents also now have full-time jobs with Williams Pipeline, Price said.

But, she said, “Is everyone happy about having a compression station in Windsor? The answer is no.”

So, Price said, the town meets with residents to address those concerns, which have included questions about noise pollution and road damage. Another concern has been safety, as a lightning strike hit one of the compression station’s vents in July 2012, causing a bolt of fire to spread 200 feet into the sky as the gas was released from the vent, Price said.

Shortly after both schools and the town hall get natural gas, Windsor residents situated along the pipeline will have the option to heat their homes with natural gas.

“That is a huge long-term benefit to our community,” she said.

Michael German, president and CEO of Corning Natural Gas, said the low cost of natural gas is just one of its many benefits.

“The availability of low-cost gas is a very big positive if you’re interested in manufacturing growth and economic development,” he said. “That’s happened in the Corning area.”

Helen Humphreys, senior corporate communications specialist for Williams, said the company started operations in Pennsylvania a couple years ago with 50 employees. Now, they employ about 500. Williams, which raked in almost $8 billion in revenue last year, has more than half of its project funds from 2012 to 2014 invested in Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, Humphreys said.

“The economic opportunity brought by natural gas to the country as a whole is important,” Humphreys said. “Natural gas is fueling more and more of the powerplants in the United States.”*

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