The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 12, 2013

Group seeks natural gas service

JOHNSTOWN — John Russin has a burning desire to bring natural gas to his neighborhood.

He’s been circulating a petition locally to gather support – and has already bought a furnace for it.

Now, all he has to do is convince the local gas company to extend a line into the Wesley Chapel area. It’s a likely pricey move Russin hopes will make sense for Peoples Natural Gas and other players if he can drum up enough support along Route 271.

“We’ve got more than 100 homes in East Taylor and part of Jackson interested in getting natural gas. Summit Chapel Church and the Dairy Queen want it, too,” said Russin, noting that most homes along the corridor rely on heating oil, a currently expensive option.

The group will get its chance May 30.

Residents will be able to sit down with Utility Pipe Line, the company that installs area gas lines, and provider Peoples Natural Gas for an exploratory meeting at Summit Chapel Church, 2142 William Penn Ave., about trying to find a way to make the idea work.

Russin and fellow project supporters said a letter is being sent to homes between the Martin’s General Store in the Parkhill area to Aurandt Motors south of Vinco urging them to attend.

“We’re a group of people who want natural gas – and it’s strength in numbers,” he said. “We want to show them we’re serious about this.”

Adding a gas line in the area would certainly benefit Summit Chapel Church, said Ronald Guyan, whose home sits just across Route 271 from the church.

Guyan, a Summit Chapel Church member, said churches like his have watched Sunday attendance drop in recent years thanks to the area’s aging population.  Meanwhile the bills to keep the church heated keep going up. He recalled a day when heating oil cost 50 cents a gallon.

“I paid $1,100 over the winter just to put 300 gallons in my tank,” he added, saying he too supports bringing natural gas into the area if it’s not too cost prohibitive.

“Hopefully, there’s a way we can make it happen,” Guyan said. “It never hurts to sit down and talk about it.”

Heating oil prices in Pennsylvania were up as high as $4 per gallon over the winter.  

Russin is pushing for the natural gas line as a cleaner fuel – and one increasingly plentiful at a time Marcellus Shale drilling has increased supply.

“There’s no better time,” Russin added.

Peoples Natural Gas is always looking for new customers – but there are plenty of factors it must consider before new gas lines are built, company spokesman Barry Kukovich said.

Typically, new lines added only extend a few hundred feet – and oftentimes to large gas users such as housing developments or manufacturers, he added.

“It typically costs us $75 to $150 per foot to extend a gas line,” Kukovich said.

That means a 2-mile line could cost $1 million to install, he added.

“It depends on a lot of things: Does the line have to go uphill? What kind of soil is involved? Are there creeks in the path that we’d have to cross?” Kukovich said. “All of that makes the project add up.

“But we don’t know until we take a close look,” he added. “Getting everyone together is the first step.”

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