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Pipeline plan raises officials’ hopes

SHAMOKIN DAM — The proposed natural gas Sunbury Pipeline would be a boon to the Valley, not just Snyder County, Shamokin Dam borough officials said, although they would be particularly happy to see the Sunbury Generation property get a second life as a gas-fired power plant and possibly as an industrial park.

“It’s a tremendous boon, a great improvement for the area,” Shamokin Dam Mayor Joe McGranaghan said of the gas-powered plant but also of the surplus gas that could fuel other industries along the pipeline’s 35-mile route through the Valley’s four counties.

“There is an added impetus to market the land they have for KOEZ (Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone) to bring additional industry to the area,” McGranaghan said of the Sunbury Generation property, adding officials of the Shamokin Dam power plant “worked hard to bring this about. They developed the KOEZ, cleaned up that coal pile … it’s a win-win all around.”

Hummel Station is planning to construct the power plant at the existing site of the coal-fired Sunbury Generation facility. The 35-mile, 20-inch steel pipeline would connect to the Transco Pipeline in southern Lycoming County, bringing Marcellus and Utica shale gases south through Montour, Northumberland and Union counties, ultimately ending at the Snyder County plant.

A Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone is a program to encourage economic development by empowering local communities to authorize abatement of most state and local taxes, such as real estate or earned income, for up to 10 years.

McGranaghan said Sunbury Pipeline officials, particularly UGI Energy Services, made presentations to the Borough Council, which had to give zoning approval for additional needed property bought for the project.

While the power plant would use about 90 percent capacity of the pipeline, it would use only about 20 percent of the available space at Sunbury Generation, said David Herbert, Shamokin Dam council president and chairman of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce. The remaining property could be subdivided and become an industrial park, he said.

In related news, Sunbury Pipeline project gets preliminary federal OK.

“It will have rail, water and gas, and that’s what most places are looking for,” Herbert said. “We are very, very excited,” he said, adding the chamber plans to sell the park on the idea of “commerce, culture and citizens.”

“Every town has something like this,” he said. “You need something special. The chamber plans to sell everyone on what this can do.”

While natural gas access for commercial customers seems apparent, access for potential residential customers remains to be worked out.

The pipeline is designed to provide up to 200,000 decatherms per day of natural gas to the Valley. Decatherm is a measurement unit of the “burn ability” or heating value of natural gas and the unit at which most natural gas is bought. Natural gas usually is measured by volume in the United States and is stated in cubic feet.

How it would be made available to residential customers would come later as the pipeline design and plans and gas suppliers come into play.

Some municipal officials hope, however, that natural gas for citizens’ use would happen as a result of the project. Thomas Zorn, chairman of the East Buffalo Township supervisors in Union County, has led efforts to explore natural gas consumption for residents there but said he doesn’t know enough about the Sunbury Pipeline project to be hopeful that it could bring gas lines to the township.

According to the latest map, the pipeline would run though Union Township, the far southeastern portion of Union County where it meets Northumberland County. “It would be neat if it was routed to position where it would allow for expansion into some of our developments for East Buffalo Township homeowners,” Zorn said.

“I would love to think we could benefit from it in our area,” he said. “It seems like a one-time opportunity for expansion to residential.”

 

This article was written by Evamarie Socha from The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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