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Natural gas cooperative takes huge step for clean energy

We certainly hope the $2.7 million, natural gas pipeline project at Centre Hall marks the start of similar initiatives in other rual areas of our region that are starving to burn the clean energy to heat homes and water, dry clothes, etc.

Essentially, construction has begun at Centre Hall whereby natural gas now bypassing the area via a high pressure, interstate pipeline will be tapped so that natural gas can be brought through the borough to the Hanover Foods plant, which is converting its processes to use natural gas to produce all sorts of canned and bagged vegetables.

The high pressure line is Dominion Energy’s and begins at the Leidy Gasfield in northern Clinton County, delivering natural gas to Virginia and beyond.

The new, lower-pressure line will be operated by Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.

Hanover Foods is the first recipient – its planned high-volume use makes this project more financially feasible – but the new lower-pressure line will ultimately be able to provide natural gas to homes and businesses in the borough.

This project was brought to fruition by a multi-county cooperative under the SEDA-COG umbrella. That’s not going unrecognized.

“There are a couple words that come to mind in terms of how this particular project was conceptualized, and it’s related to capacity and innovation and vision,” said Denise Brinley, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Energy, at last Thursday’s ground-breaking ceremony. “The way in which SEDA-COG was able to establish a natural gas cooperative … it just isn’t done anywhere else in the state.”

The SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative’s member-counties include Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry and Union.

There are some areas in those counties with just 10 percent availability of natural gas.

Clinton County Commissioner Pete Smeltz, who chairs the cooperative board, refers to the rural areas in our region not served by natural gas as “the donut hole.”

You fill that gap by this type of project and by another being developed: A virtual gas pipeline whereby natural gas is liquified at or near the well, trucked to tanks installed in a community or business park, and then sent to customers from there via underground pipelines.

More of these types of projects are needed so we’re not liquifying natural gas produced from our region only to be shipped overseas.

Natural gas is often praised as a clean energy alternative. It burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels, emitting lower levels of harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides. It produces less greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels do.

Our area is part of the larger Marcellus Shale region wherby natural gas can be produced from deep-in-the-ground rock formations.

We need to make sure we’re increasingly using this source of clean energy here.

Making this resource more available and feasible to disburse in our rural communities is a challenge, but thanks to the SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative, great strides are being made.

We understand the cooperative has more proposals and ideas in the pipeline and we hope state officials, gas companies and energy consumers are listening.

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