MASSENA — Construction on the Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas Company expansion in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties will begin in mid-August.
The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved the company’s petition to amend its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which allows it to assess construction fees and an extended surcharge to users to reflect costs that escalated after the pipeline was approved in June 2011.
Cost increases were attributed to the discovery of huge natural-gas pockets in Pennsylvania that caused a drop in the price of natural gas and increased demand for the specialized workers and equipment needed to construct that pipeline.
Both delayed the project’s original construction schedule; originally, the plan was to have the first leg of the North Country online by this fall.
The 48-mile pipeline will serve Winthrop, Brasher Falls and North Lawrence in St. Lawrence County, and Moira, North Bangor, Brushton, Malone, Burke and Chateaugay in Franklin County.
“As part of the discussion included in the order approving the project, the PSC notes that the expansion project will result in substantial financial benefits to new customers and economic benefits to the communities in which service will be provided,” said Richard Campbell, president and general manager of St. Lawrence Gas, in a statement. “Bringing natural gas to this new market area will provide an
economic and environmentally desirable fuel choice to residential, commercial and industrial customers.”
St. Lawrence Gas had first intended to assess new customers a temporary surcharge for five years, but that fee will now be collected for seven years — those two extra years of income will allow the company to reach the state’s mandated profit level, officials said.
As well, customers will pay a fee called “contribution in aid of construction” for seven years at a rate of 28 cents per unit for residential customers, 30 cents per therm for industrial customers and 40 cents per therm for commercial customers.
The estimated cost of the project is $41.2 million.
“The success of this initiative is due in large part to the efforts and strong support from all levels of government,” Campbell said. “We wish to specifically thank the Governor’s Office, Senator Betty Little, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, Congressman Bill Owens, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Empire State Development, along with the Franklin County Legislature and the Franklin County and St. Lawrence County industrial development agencies.”
St. Lawrence Gas is owned by Enbridge Gas Distribution, Canada’s largest natural gas distribution company. Enbridge Gas Distribution is owned by Canada-based Enbridge Inc. which owns and operates distribution services in Ontario. That arm of the company distributes natural gas to about 2 million customers in Ontario, New York State, New Brunswick and southwestern Quebec.
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