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February 14, 2013

Gallitzin eyes feasibility of natural gas service

GALLITZIN — Gallitzin Borough Council is sizing up community interest in installing natural gas service to Gallitzin residents and some surrounding boroughs.

Working with L. Robert Kimball and Associates of Johnstown and Peoples Natural Gas of Pittsburgh, the borough was advised to send out surveys to residents, which went out with the most recent wave of water bills on the first of the month.

Aside from inquiring as to the residents’ interest in switching to natural gas, the survey is helping to collect data – including addresses of interested residents – that will give Peoples Natural Gas officials an idea of what the addition of the Gallitzin area would bring to its network:

How many appliances would residents plan to convert to natural gas – or would they convert their furnace? Which method of home heating do residents currently use? And finally, whether residents would be a part of a petition to bring the service to their area. The surveys are due by Wednesday and can be mailed to the Gallitzin Borough Office at 411 Convent St., faxed to 886-6811 or emailed to GallitzinWaterAuthority@gmail. com. Extra copies of the survey are available at the borough office.

“At this point right now, we’re at about a 90 percent positive response,” said council President Roger Renninger. “We know that the interest is there ... They’re looking forward to having another option, instead of being burdened by Penelec or finding the cheapest oil around.”

He urged residents who haven’t already returned their survey to do so. He said that will only increase council’s range of knowledge on public interest or circumstances, allowing it to work more closely with PNG to find a solution that’s feasible for all borough residents.

He also said the relatively low operating costs of natural gas make it the most efficient heating method for businesses.

“Hopefully, it’ll be an opportunity to bring in some new businesses,” he said. “We’re maybe lacking a little there.”

A majority of the borough operates on electric heaters, and addition of natural gas service would impact coal and oil use. But, as Renninger sees it, that’s a small(er) price to pay.

“The skyrocketing cost of electricity is getting out of hand,” he said.

The Peoples Natural Gas official working with Gallitzin Borough declined to comment. Solid details or figures about the plan, how it will work or when it could get under way are scarce. However, Renninger is optimistic that it could be the right fit for the community.

“I absolutely believe it’s feasible and could be economically beneficial to Gallitzin Borough.”

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