Perry County has joined the SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative, bringing the current total member counties to four.

The SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative builds partnerships with counties, stakeholders, and customers to encourage the development of natural gas projects that will directly benefit the region’s economy.

On behalf of the Perry County commissioners, Commissioner Paul Rudy expressed the benefits of joining the cooperative.

“We see this as a first step to bring clean burning natural gas into Perry County for our citizens. As it rolls out, it will benefit our environment as well as our budgets. It will help grow our business campus, strengthen our businesses, support our farmers and lower energy costs to our residential taxpayers,” Rudy said.

Don Kiel, cooperative executive director, said the cooperative is pleased that Perry County has joined the cooperative that also includes Centre, Clinton, and Mifflin counties. Other counties also are welcome to join in the effort to strengthen central Pennsylvania’s access to natural gas.

“This is a great opportunity for Perry County businesses, industries, and residents to better access natural gas, and we are happy to welcome a new county to our regional membership,” Kiel said.

The cooperative’s partnership includes existing natural gas utilities, with whom projects may be coordinated. The cooperative may be involved in funding, building, owning, and maintaining new infrastructure, as well as working together with utility companies to promote extensions to their systems.

The large abundance of natural gas in the state presents a tremendous opportunity for economic growth and energy savings, but also a great challenge to realize those benefits. Natural gas is a clean, less expensive, local energy source – but getting it to businesses and homes can be difficult.

While there are many traditional natural gas distribution companies in Pennsylvania that provide excellent, safe delivery systems to their customers, it may be too costly for them to build new infrastructure in some areas.

Also, in Pennsylvania local natural gas distribution companies service areas are regulated by the Public Utility Commission, and utilities have limited flexibility to set rates. Their cost economics may influence willingness to provide new service, and maintaining safe existing infrastructure also requires significant investment.

The cooperative’s approach, however, may be more cost-effective and efficient to market or procure natural gas service.

The SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative, which was established on June 9, 2016, seeks to provide project funding and form partnerships to expand natural gas distribution infrastructure to its member counties.