Natural gas coop looks to Loganton for next project

By SARAH PAEZ

spaez@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — The SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative, which recently received a grant for a pipeline project in Centre Hall, is looking to implement a virtual pipeline project in Loganton.

Don Kiel, executive director and secretary of the cooperative, talked to the Clinton County commissioners Monday about possible natural gas transport projects in the county, including one that would primarily service Nicholas Meats in Loganton.

The cooperative has successfully applied for and been awarded a grant from the state’s Commonwealth Financing Authority to build a natural gas point of departure station with Columbia Gas servicing around 100 Centre Hall residents and Hanover Foods Corporation. Kiel said this success creates momentum for a project in Clinton County.

Commissioner Pete Smeltz, who also serves as president of the cooperative, said he was eager to bring natural gas to Clinton County businesses and homes, but that no projects have begun in the county yet.

“We’re in conversations with businesses in other counties and our county, but until we actually have a deal, we don’t know what will happen,” he said.

Since Clinton was one of the three original counties that formed the cooperative in 2016, Kiel said it would be a very good place for the next project.

With respect to transporting natural gas, Kiel said there are two kinds of projects.

The first is like the Centre Hall project, which involves connecting a point of departure station to an already-existing hardline, like the one that runs west of Centre Hall Borough operated by Dominion Energy Transmission.

The second is called a virtual pipeline project, which involves trucking liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) to factories or farms that use it.

For example, Kiel said, the Empire Kosher Poultry plant in Juniata County has trucked in natural gas for its operations for almost two years.

“There may be places in Clinton County available for that,” he said.

With an expansion planned for Nicholas Meats, Kiel said Loganton would be the favored area to start virtual pipeline delivery in the county.

Kiel showed commissioners a map of what a potential virtual pipeline project for Loganton would look like. Schrack Farms, Kauffman’s Store, the Buggy Shop, Loganton Borough Authority Wastewater Treatment Facility, Sugar Valley Greenhouse, Sugar Valley Rural Charter School, R&S Miller Trucking, Nicholas Meats and the Green Township Municipal Building were all located along the proposed delivery route.

Additionally, as in Centre Hall, servicing Loganton businesses through a virtual pipeline would mean servicing borough residents as well. There are about 300 non-vacant properties in Loganton that house potential customers.

Lock Haven City Councilman Steve Stevenson pointed out that in Loganton, there is a fair amount of businesses that use propane delivery already.

Switching over to natural gas through a virtual pipeline, he said, would not be a large change for many businesses and farms.

But Smeltz said he had not seen a large demand for natural gas from business owners in Clinton County. Though he said there is homeowner interest, UGI Utilities, which services the area’s residents for natural gas, has not expanded its county operations.

“What do we need to do to spark interest to get these projects up and running?” asked Commissioner Jeff Snyder.

Kiel said he would reach out to Nicholas Meats to see what role it would play in a virtual pipeline system, continue to pursue funding, put together a cost analysis and gauge interest in the Loganton community.

“We want to make it as viable as possible,” he said.

Snyder said for a town like Loganton, whose residents often feel overlooked by the county and state, this project’s focus is significant.

Commissioner Paul Conklin said the project sounded like a great story of people working together. “It’s an opportunity to have private industry (like Nicholas Meats) extend (its) benefit of natural gas to the community,” he said.

On Wednesday, Kiel said, the cooperative will submit a grant application to the Appalachian Regional Commission to obtain funds for a possible Loganton project. The cooperative is also meeting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Feb. 26 to try and secure funding. The state Departments of Community and Economic Development, and Agriculture have been supportive of the cooperative and its plans across the state. If everything comes together, Kiel said, the cooperative could introduce the initiative by this summer.

“I think we’ll get support on the state and federal level,” he said. Other future virtual pipeline projects for Clinton County could include the Lamar Business Park and the I-80/PA State Route 64 interchange area.

Kiel said possible hardline projects in Clinton County could be around Hogan Boulevard in Mill Hall and Beech Creek-Blanchard. But the county would have to address pressure problems with the current gas line that services the area. UGI has the final say because it currently owns and operates the line.

Because Clinton County is part of the cooperative, Kiel said some future projects in other counties will try to further incorporate Clinton’s industries into their plans. For example, the Bellefonte company Frontier Natural Resources, which has gas wells in western Clinton County, has already partnered with the cooperative with the goal of bringing LNG to farms in Perry, Juniata and Snyder counties.

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