Natural gas project to expand in NEPA, benefit businesses, residents

By Brandi Bailey

June 18, 2013 Updated Jun 19, 2013 at 12:05 AM EDT

Montrose, PA (WBNG Binghamton) The Leatherstocking Gas Company breaks ground on a new natural gas project in Susquehanna County.

Plans call for connecting local customers above ground with the natural gas that drillers access underground.

The project -- building a natural gas distribution system --is one local leaders say will be a boon for the northeast Pennsylvania economy.

Leatherstocking says it's an easy choice for how to use natural gas in Susquehanna County.

"There is supply because there's gas here. If there was no local gas here, we wouldn't be here," said Leatherstocking CEO Mike German.

Leatherstocking will be working with companies like Cabot Oil and Gas and Williams Energy, both of whom have long since made their mark in Susquehanna County.

"Cabot is the supplier. They're producing the gas. They put it into the Williams gathering network and we attach to those assets and bring gas to the local people," German said.

Large businesses within the county will be connected first, leaders said Tuesday.

Officials from the Endless Mountain Health System -- which is building a new facility -- said the move will allow them to save money as they open.

"Local resource, providing local jobs, contributing to the local economy and we get to burn a greener fuel source and we'll realize a substantial savings," said Endless Mountain Health System CEO Rex Catlin.

The hospital was previously planning use propane as fuel, but will be switching to natural gas for it's opening in November.

A new Trehab facility and the Montrose Area High School will also be some of the project's first customers.

District officials said Tuesday the savings could help their bottom line.

"Given what's going on in our state capitol and legislators in regards to education funding, it's a great opportunity for us. It allows us to save probably 40 percent of our fuel bill and for us that's $60,000. That puts another teacher in a classroom," said MASD Superintendent Mike Ognosky.

During the next 10 years, Leatherstocking plans to make the resources and savings available to most of the residents in Susquehanna County.

The initial construction will work off a six-mile high-density pipe to the Bridgewater-Montrose area, and expand from there.

Leatherstocking expects to expand it to the rest of the borough of Montrose within the next two years.