MALONE — Between 50 and 60 temporary workers will be hired to build the 48-mile natural-gas transmission line through Franklin County.
Construction is set to start in two to three weeks to bring service from an existing Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas pipeline in the Town of Norfolk to the Village of Chateaugay.
The first of 77 tractor-trailer loads of sectioned pipe has begun arriving at North Country Dairy LLC in North Lawrence, which will be the first high-volume user brought online for the $41 million project, said Jim Ward, the company’s assistant-general manager.
Others will eventually include Brushton-Moira Central School, the area state prisons, other school districts, Alice Hyde Medical Center and Agri-Mark McCadam Cheese in Chateaugay.
As many as 50 truckloads of pipe will be stored in Malone and Chateaugay in anticipation of the two-phase installation project, which could be operational by early December, Ward said.
At the same time the work crews are digging 3-foot trenches to bury the pipe or boring holes to thread piping through at other sites, company personnel will go door-to-door along the construction route, seeking residential customers interested in switching to natural-gas service, he said.
“There are no laterals. We’ll be bringing service right up to the house,” Ward said. “During the first five years of our development contract with the Public Service Commission, we bring it right to the premises for no fee.”
Once service is brought to the house, the homeowner is responsible for any interior hookups to appliances and furnaces, he said.
Traffic is not expected to be much impacted by the work, since most construction will be
off the shoulder of the road along an abandoned railroad bed.
But in some tighter places, roads will be temporarily reduced to one lane by a flag person, he said.
While permission to cross some parcels was obtained through eminent domain, Ward said, negotiations are continuing with some property owners over access to their land.
“Hopefully, we can satisfy everybody, but there’s work to do there,” he said.
Progress was stalled in February when the company saw the price of the project skyrocket at the same time the price of natural gas bottomed out.
But through a revised operational permit recently approved by the Public Service Commission, St. Lawrence Gas can now charge customers a special fee for seven years to finance the new construction.
Residential customers will pay 28 cents per therm, industrial customers 30 cents per therm and commercial customers 40 cents per therm under that permit. A therm is a measurement of natural-gas usage.
Discovery of huge natural-gas pockets in Pennsylvania drove construction costs up and forced the company to break the project into two phases, bringing the western-most customers and Malone online first and those in Chateaugay on later in 2013.
Franklin County expects to be billed soon for the remaining $1.425 million it pledged to the project and will also be chipping in another $25,754 in the form of a 1 percent match in order to receive $2.5 million promised by former Gov. David Paterson through Empire State Development.
County Manager Thomas Leitz said legislators will have to decide soon if they want to take out a short-term low-interest note for its share, bond out the cost over a longer period of time or work the costs into the 2013 budget they are beginning to formulate.
The rest of the money would come from St. Lawrence Gas, which pledged $17.2 million, with about $6.3 million of that financed through the County Industrial Development Agency and $2 million from the office of Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury).
St. Lawrence County was asked to contribute $600,000 to the cost since North Country Dairy is within its borders and plans to employ as many as 85 people at the yogurt plant.
But the legislators there have taken no action on the matter.
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