MONTROSE -- Homeowners in Susquehanna County will soon be able to heat their houses with natural gas that's coming from wells all around them.
Last week we told you about the state giving a company permission to bring natural gas service to Susquehanna County, tapping into the gas that's been flowing there for years.
Monday we learned more about how homes and businesses in places including Montrose, New Milford, and Great Bend can sign up to make the switch to natural gas.
Natural gas drilling rigs have been part of Susquehanna County for years, but only now will people there be able to heat their homes with the gas coming from underneath their feet.
Leatherstocking Natural Gas Company has plans to run gas lines into neighborhoods like Montrose during the next five years. Leatherstocking is a company based in New York State owned by longtime gas companies Corning Natural Gas Corporation and Mirabito Holdings. They saw an opportunity in Pennsylvania's northern tier.
"We thought, 'Wow, Pennsylvania they have gas supply. Pennsylvania, they have a gathering and interstate infrastructure. It's a no brainer. Let's connect to that. Let's build a distribution system,'" said Russ Miller with Leatherstocking Gas Company about why it wants to serve Susquehanna County.
Last week we showed you Pennsy Supply's asphalt plant near Lawton. It is the first place in the county to tap into Marcellus Shale natural gas, thanks to Leatherstocking.
Now that Leatherstocking has state approval to be a utility serving the county, it plans to expand over the next 5 years.
Businesses will come first. Leatherstocking hopes to connect the new hospital near Montrose. It also hopes to sign up the high school.
Once a line is run to the hospital and high school, homes and businesses along that line can tap in for free. Leatherstocking says that will start next year.
"As a rule of thumb we say if you don't have cell service, you're probably not going to get gas, but if you live someplace like the borough here you're probably going to get gas within the next couple years," Miller said.
Miller said Corning Natural Gas ran a line from the Marcellus Shale wells in the northern tier to its system in the Corning area and that resulted in considerable savings for customers because the gas was coming from so close.
Abe Haberle of the Hallstead area knows he could save a lot switching from propane to natural gas.
Now most homes in this area heat with oil, electric or propane. All are more expensive than gas. And some say now the gas industry will benefit more than just landowners getting royalties.
"Any thing would help, electric heat is very expensive," said Cindy Thompson of South Montrose.
And some say now the gas industry will benefit more than just landowners getting royalties.
"I think that's what people have been wondering for so long. People have been seeing the effects of it for so long but we haven't been using it. So I think that will really excite people," said Cortney Thompson of Lawton.
Leatherstocking Natural Gas Company plans to begin canvassing neighborhoods in places such as Montrose, Susquehanna, Great Bend, Hallstead and New Milford in the spring to see what homes are interested in natural gas service. They'll run lines down streets based on that demand.
"What will drive our future development will be the feedback we get from customers in the area," said Miller. "On the drawing board right now is a mile to two mile expansion typically in the boroughs because they're more densely populated, if you live outside the borough what will indicate whether or not you'll get natural gas is whether you're on a main thoroughfare where we'd build a gas line."
Leatherstocking got state permission to serve the northern part of the county. It is the first new utility in Pennsylvania in decades.
If the lines run by you, Leatherstocking says hooking up your house will be free.