Another $3 million in taxpayer-funded grants have just been handed out to three different local pipeline projects under Pennsylvania’s Pipeline Investment Program, or PIPE. Two of the projects are in northeastern PA, and the other in the Lehigh Valley area.
The PIPE program helps fund construction of natural gas pipelines to manufacturers, hospitals and schools to provide clean-burning, abundant, cheap and home-grown Marcellus Shale gas to those organizations.
We’ve written about a number of the PIPE grant projects in the past (see our PIPE stories here). Like previous PIPE grants, these new grants cover only part of the cost of building new natgas pipelines. Private companies shoulder the rest of the cost.
In general we’re not in favor of corporate welfare, which is what these grants are (let’s just be honest). However, PIPE grants are a pretty mild case. We can think of worse ways to blow taxpayer’s money. Essentially these relatively small investments keep more PA gas in PA by running pipelines to residents and businesses that will use it. Think of the grants as seed money to encourage more PA gas staying in PA, generating jobs at the same time.
Here’s an overview of who received the latest PIPE grants, and where they are located:
On March 26, the Commonwealth Financing Authority approved grants for 3 projects for a total of $3 million to extend natural gas pipelines under the Pipeline Investment Program. The projects include–
— Bradford: Leatherstocking Gas Company, LLC, Wyalusing Gasification, $1 million
— Lehigh: Lehigh Valley Economic Investment Group, Arcadia West Business Park $1 million
— Wyoming: Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, Tunkhannock Natural Gas Extension, Phase 2, $1 million. (1)
We located stories in local media outlets for two of the three projects, providing more details. First up, for Wyalusing Gasification in Bradford County:
The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) today awarded a $1 million state grant to Leatherstocking Gas Company, LLC for a pipeline project extending natural gas into Wyalusing Borough, Bradford County, according to state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23).
The grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE) will help to fund the $2,088,005 project. Leatherstocking will provide matching funds in the amount of $1,088,005.
Leatherstocking’s grant application was supported by Yaw.
“This grant reinforces the state’s commitment to using low-cost, abundant natural gas for our communities,” Sen. Yaw said. “By enabling more communities to have access to gas, our region will attract new industry and jobs, reduce energy costs and fuel our economy. I am glad the CFA decided to move this project forward in my Senate District.”
The pipeline project will extend the existing natural gas line serving the Cargill Meat Processing Facility in Wyalusing Township to the Borough of Wyalusing. The project will provide residences, businesses and the Wyalusing Area School District complex access to cleaner burning, domestically produced natural gas to a seven acre undeveloped parcel located in the Highway Commercial District on State Route 2010 that currently has access to water and sewer. It is anticipated that the completion of this development will create additional employment in the region. In addition to the new development, the extension will provide natural gas access to 38 commercial businesses, 29 residences, and two public entities.
The PIPE program was crafted by Senator Yaw and included in the state’s 2016 Fiscal Code, whereas it was later approved by the State Legislature. The program provides grants to construct the last few miles of natural gas distribution lines to business parks, existing manufacturing and industrial enterprises, which will result in the creation of new economic base jobs in the commonwealth while providing access to natural gas for residents. (2)
Finally, details on the Tunkhannock Natural Gas Extension in Wyoming County:
A $1 million grant will help bring natural gas to Tunkhannock.
The Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce received the grant — funded through the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Pipeline Extension Program — to benefit the UGI Utilities Get Gas initiative.
The cash will be used for Phase 2 of the project that broke ground in October of 2018 to bring natural gas to Tunkhannock homes for the first time.
“We’re thrilled to be able to build out from what we started before,” chamber President Gina Suydam said.
The chamber received an initial $1 million PIPE grant in November of 2017, which allowed UGI to begin construction on the gate station.
So far, pipeline has been installed from Sunnyside Road up Harrison Street to the area of the Tunkhannock Area Intermediate Center.
Suydam said with Phase 2, UGI will be able to install pipe toward Business Route 6 (Tioga Street).
Suydam said this will allow the Dietrich Theater to hook up to natural gas and save on heating costs, which was a stipulation in the chamber’s grant application.
“Natural gas heat is more economical. It’s more environmentally friendly than many of the heating sources used in our area currently,” she said.
Wyoming County Commissioner Tom Henry said the grant gives Tunkhannock residents and businesses another option. “With all this gas under our feet, it’s crazy not to have that option.” (3)
(1) PA Environment Digest Blog (Mar 26, 2019) – $3 Million In Natural Gas Pipeline Extension Project Grants Approved By CFA
(2) NorthcentralPA.com (Mar 26, 2019) – Senator Yaw Announces $1 Million Natural Gas Expansion Grant to Connect Residents, Businesses in Bradford County
(3) Wilkes-Barre (PA) Citizens’ Voice (Mar 27, 2019) – $1M grant will aid Tunkhannock getting natuaral gas line
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