Finding Ways To Deliver Natural Gas

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WILLIAMSPORT -- "Got gas?" is the question some state lawmakers are trying to answer with a proposed law to expand natural gas service to homes and businesses statewide.

Our area is sitting on a lot of natural gas and the gas industry has tapped the Marcellus Shale partly to use the fuel to heat homes and businesses.

Two powerful state lawmakers, one from Lycoming County, are pushing a proposed law to expand the reach of natural gas to places that don't have the option right now.

At Penn College in Williamsport, Republican state Senators Dominic Pileggi and Gene Yaw announced new bills they hope will expand access to the state's latest and greatest resource: natural gas.

"We're sitting on one of the largest gas deposits in the world and 50 percent of our residents don't even have the opportunity to say 'I'd like to have natural gas service,'" said Senator Yaw.

The Natural Gas Consumer Access act would require gas service companies, such as UGI, to submit plans for expanding service lines that would be subject to scrutiny by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission.

"My goal is to make it available and give people the option, if that's what they want to use, they can do it."

In South Williamsport, borough leaders have approved a pilot program that would help defray the costs of extending those gas lines.

"Any little bit would help. I'd get on it tomorrow if I had the chance. "

Resident Frank Agnoni is excited about the prospect of getting natural gas service.  He says his oil bills are costing him a pretty penny.

"There's no comparison, I've been wanting to get on gas since I got here and willing to do anything to get on it," he said.

If the pilot program in South Williamsport works the way it's intended, natural gas service lines would be run into neighborhoods under the street, the cost for that would be paid in part by impact fee money paid by natural gas drillers.

So while South Williamsport waits for state lawmakers to push their bills through the legislature, borough leaders say they hope the pilot program helps get natural gas to those who want it - in the end, saving them money.

"We have a nice resource here under our feet, and I'd like to see our residents have access to it. Especially with cost saving you can realize with this," said Borough Manager Michael Miller.