Teri MacBride appointed to SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative Board

SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) recently appointed Teri MacBride of Lewisburg to the SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative’s Board of Directors. She will represent SEDA-COG and its 11 member counties to facilitate development of new natural gas projects through the cooperative.

“I’m very pleased and excited to become a part of this important regional initiative. The SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative is already making a difference in several communities, and numerous new and exciting projects are emerging,” MacBride said. “SEDA-COG has been at the forefront of delivering innovative solutions to economic and community development challenges for decades.”

MacBride, who recently retired as regional affairs director at PPL, also worked for SEDA-COG in establishing its Export Development Program, and has been employed by several state and area agencies that are involved in promoting regional economic development. She has worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Focus Central PA, and has served on numerous boards and agencies.

SEDA-COG Executive Director Bill Seigel thanked MacBride for her continued service.

“Teri is a true community servant. She continues to unselfishly commit herself to enhance the economic well-being of our region. I am thrilled she has agreed to serve SEDA-COG in this role,” Seigel said.

Pete Smeltz, SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative board president and Clinton County commissioner, said MacBride is attuned with the needs of the region and how to meet them creatively.

“I have worked with Teri on several occasions over the years, and know what a true professional she is. Through her past work as regional affairs director for PPL, Teri truly understands infrastructure development and how it impacts people and communities, whether it be electricity or natural gas. I am grateful she has decided to join our team, and she will be a tremendous asset,” Smeltz said.

Current member counties and board members are:

  • Centre: Commissioner Michael Pipe, Robert Jacobs
  • Clinton: Commissioner Pete Smeltz, Katie de Silva, Roland Weaver
  • Juniata: Commissioner Todd Graybill, Brad Kerstetter
  • Mifflin: Commissioner Robert Postal, William Gomes, Mike Tate
  • Northumberland: Don Alexander, Alan Neuner
  • Perry: Commissioner Paul Rudy, Frank Campbell
  • SEDA-COG: Don Kiel, Teri MacBride

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. For more information about the cooperative, visit http://centralpagas.org/.

Northumberland County joins SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative

To help expand access to natural gas and further stimulate economic development, Northumberland County has joined the SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative.

This brings the cooperative’s county membership to six: Centre, Clinton, Juniata, Mifflin, Northumberland, and Perry.

Northumberland County Commissioner Rick Shoch said, “Commissioner Schiccatano and I are excited to be part of this cooperative effort that will help bring economic energy to rural areas of our county and spur development and job growth to benefit our communities. We look forward to working with the other member counties and partners from the private sector to make the most of this very forward-thinking initiative.”

Don Kiel, the cooperative’s executive director, noted that the county has several areas that may be well suited for natural gas project development.

“We worked with Northumberland County earlier to identify priority targeted investment areas for new natural gas service, and now we hope to move quickly to implement development of that service,” Kiel said. “We believe the cooperative can serve as the catalyst to form public-private partnerships and procure funding to support these projects.”

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

The cooperative’s goal to fill the gaps so farms, industries, businesses, and residences can better access natural gas is to be accomplished through the building of partnerships with counties, private stakeholders, utilities, and state and federal agencies.

“These partnerships are to encourage the development of natural gas projects that will directly benefit the region’s economy,” Kiel said.

Approaches will be tailored to each potential project’s needs. The cooperative may coordinate and jointly develop projects with existing natural gas utilities and other companies. 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 cooperative was formed because while there is a large abundance of natural gas in the state that presents a tremendous opportunity for economic growth and energy savings, there also is 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.

$1 million grant to connect Hanover Foods, residents, businesses to natural gas

A much-anticipated $1 million grant has been awarded to the SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative, empowering a natural gas project for Centre Hall and Potter Township, Centre County, that is based on a public-private partnership approach. The Commonwealth Financing Authority approved and announced the grant Jan. 23.

In partnership with Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, the project will connect Hanover Foods Corporation and initially about 100 local businesses and residents to natural gas.

The grant from the state Department of Community & Economic Development’s Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE) helps to fund the construction of a $2.7 million point-of-departure station as the initial connection infrastructure needed before further build-out by Columbia Gas. Columbia Gas is providing matching funds for the grant, and Hanover Foods also is contributing funds for the station.

In addition to Columbia Gas and Hanover Foods, the grant application was supported by state Sen. Jake Corman (R-34), state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), Centre County Planning and Community Development Office, Centre Hall Borough, Sammis Greenhouse of Centre Hall, and Brothers Pizza of Centre Hall.

“Expanding access of natural gas to this area will help to attract and retain jobs and provide a clean energy option for the residents of these municipalities as well as employers like Hanover Foods,” Corman said. “This grant is an investment in our economy, will help to promote clean and efficient energy options, and will improve the quality of life for area residents.”

“This grant will start the process of bringing affordable, domestic, and cleaner energy to the residents and employers of rural Centre County,” Benninghoff said. “The goal of this long-desired investment is more jobs for the region and more money in the pockets of hard-working people.”

Michael A. Huwar, president of Columbia Gas, said, “Columbia Gas is highly supportive of this public-private initiative to expand access to natural gas in central Pennsylvania, and believes this approach can be replicated elsewhere in our service area.”

The Centre Hall area has been the cooperative’s No. 1 priority area for targeted investment, based on the cooperative’s analysis. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns, the county experienced a 21-percent decrease in manufacturing jobs between 2006 and 2015 – 4 percent greater than the loss of manufacturing jobs statewide. During this time, Centre County’s jobs decreased by 1 percent while jobs statewide increased by 2 percent. In 2006, 11 percent of jobs in the county were in the manufacturing sector, which decreased to 8 percent by 2015.

Clinton County Commissioner and cooperative President Pete Smeltz said the grant will help the cooperative and its project partners to bridge the gap in natural gas service and stimulate economic growth in the area.

“We feel this partnership forms a judicious and common-sense approach to extending natural gas service in the Centre Hall area,” Smeltz said. “With PIPE funds, the cooperative considers this initiative to be a showcase project that serves as a catalyst in preserving and creating jobs in the area. The cooperative expects to build on this project, not only to expand natural gas service in Centre Hall, but also to use this as a replicable model for future projects.”

Centre County Commissioner and cooperative board member Michael Pipe said, “Partnering with DCED on the PIPE grant will enable Centre County residents and businesses to have more opportunities for cost savings and growth.”

The type and level of this public-private partnership is unique in the state, said cooperative Executive Director Don Kiel.

“The regional cooperative approach for natural gas service is a new one that has not been tried before in Pennsylvania. There are a few other natural gas cooperatives in the state, but none are a multi-county entity geared toward economic development projects, capable of facilitating public-private partnerships to develop natural gas infrastructure,” Kiel said.

PHASE 1

The first phase will provide the first step in implementing new natural gas service through the construction of a point-of-departure station to connect to a Dominion Energy natural gas transmission line west of Centre Hall Borough, then to Hanover Foods in Potter Township.

The station will reduce the pressure from gas in the transmission line to a lower pressure suitable for the Centre Hall delivery pipeline system. Columbia Gas will own and operate the station as well as the delivery system.

The cooperative’s role for this project is procuring and managing the grant and supporting marketing efforts. Kiel said the cooperative has been instrumental in securing greater interest and potential customer participation for this project.

“A tangible benefit of the cooperative’s role has been a higher-than-normal expected participation by potential customers compared to industry averages,” Kiel said.

Phase I construction is expected to take a year and should start this fall. Preliminary planning and design are already underway.

PHASE 2

After the point-of-departure installation, the next phase will be construction of the delivery system to serve around 95 potential new customers. Columbia Gas will build the 25,425-foot mainline pipeline delivery system to serve Centre Hall and Hanover Foods. Several businesses may be connected early on, including those in downtown Centre Hall, as well as a large greenhouse, two convenience stores, and a farm store.

The project will support up to 150 family sustaining jobs at Hanover Foods, not including the jobs that will be retained and created for small businesses along the natural gas route through Centre Hall. Access to natural gas also will be made available to 130 acres of vacant industrial acreage (across Route 45 from Hanover Foods) at the completion of the project, which will make this site more marketable for economic development.

Total cost for both phases is just over $7 million, and both should be completed within 18 months.

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: Centre, Clinton, Juniata, Mifflin, and Perry. For more information about the cooperative, visit http://centralpagas.org/.

Juniata County joins SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative

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.

Perry County joins SEDA-COG Natural Gas Cooperative

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.