ANNE M. DOERR
Friends of a Livable Sugar Valley, a community group established with the goal of preserving and protecting Sugar Valley’s air, water, and overall livability, is very concerned with news of a possible “virtual pipeline” in Sugar Valley, as reported by The Express newspaper on Feb. 13, 2018.
No information regarding a feasibility study of the SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative’s proposed “virtual pipeline” was provided in the news article.
Because government funds will pay for the project, we believe a feasibility study is required.
We also have serious doubts about the willingness of Sugar Valley businesses and residents to convert from propane to trucked-in natural gas.
Business owners named in the article knew nothing about the CNG “virtual pipeline” and were not interested in switching from propane to CNG.
Many Loganton residents are older and are unlikely to choose to switch from propane to CNG. The article said the project would “primarily service Nicolas Meats,” but the fact that other potential customers knew nothing of the proposed project means appropriate consultation with all the involved stakeholders has not occurred. Distributing public monies without a complete needs assessment, including a traffic study, and a risk assessment is unacceptable.
Finally, and most importantly, using government funds to subsidize one privately-owned business at the expense of local propane providers who have faithfully delivered propane to Sugar Valley customers for years is unfair competition, and, therefore, an improper use of public dollars.
According to the news article, executive director and secretary of the SEDA-COG Gas Cooperative, Don Kiel, will “reach out to Nicholas Meats … continue to pursue funding, put together a cost analysis, and gauge interest in the Loganton community.”
Later in the article, Kiel said the cooperative would submit an application for funds for a possible Loganton project on Feb. 26, just 13 days after the Feb. 13 news article.
That is a very tight schedule for a genuine consultative process with stakeholders, and the needed cost and benefit analysis. Considering the funds in question are public funds, the process should not be taken lightly.
We urge you to consider the unfair competitive advantage government subsidy of the “virtual CNG pipeline” would give to Nicholas over local propane providers; and, to more thoroughly investigate the needs, benefits, risks, and costs of this project with community stakeholders. Thank you.
(This letter was written on behalf of the Friends of a Livable Sugar Valley and copied to Greene Township Supervisors Tom Snook, Robert Bressler and Matthew Miller, plus U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, state Sen. Joe Scarnati and Rep. Mike Hanna.)