The SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative’s county membership is expanding with the recent addition of Juniata County joining the ranks of the other four counties.

The cooperative aims to fill the gaps so farms, industries, businesses, and residences can better access natural gas.

This is accomplished through the building of partnerships with counties, private stakeholders, utilities, and state and federal agencies to encourage the development of natural gas projects that will directly benefit the region’s economy.

On behalf of the Juniata County commissioners, Commissioner Alice Gray expressed the benefits of joining the cooperative.

“The Juniata County commissioners are proud to join the SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative alongside our neighboring Mifflin and Perry counties,” Gray said. “We appreciate the funding assistance from Juniata Business and Industry to join this cooperative and are excited to have the opportunity for additional energy resources in the future.”

Juniata County may be able to especially benefit from innovative natural gas delivery options that are possibilities for the area, such as delivery of liquefied or compressed natural gas via a “virtual pipeline” solution that forms “gas islands” not connected to any existing pipeline distribution system.

Other counties are welcome to join, said Don Kiel, cooperative executive director.

“It’s a great opportunity for many areas in Pennsylvania to get better access to natural gas,” Kiel said.

The cooperative’s partnership approach includes existing natural gas utilities and other companies, with whom projects may be coordinated and jointly developed. 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.