WAYMART—Local energy provider UGI Utilities, Inc., partnered with the Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO), is looking to apply for a $1 million grant through the Pipeline Investments Program to extend its current natural gas distribution lines from the nearby correctional institutions into Waymart Borough and parts of Canaan Township.
Mary Beth Wood, Executive Director of WEDCO, and Don Brominski, Business Development Director of UGI Utilities, entered Waymart Borough Council's February meeting to introduce their proposal and ask for a letter of support from the municipality.
Council voiced positive sentiment at the proposal and granted a letter of support for the cause.
Brominski stated UGI has previously received requests for such an endeavor from both the borough and school district.
UGI and WEDCO plan to submit the application 60 days before the May 21 meeting of the Commonwealth Financing Authority – the governing body with ultimate say in the application's fate.
“If it's evaluated in May and passes, then at that time, that's when UGI will really go full-bore with … detailed engineering studies, drawings, getting permits, discussing with the borough where we're gonna put our mains through the streets and all the details associated with that,” said Brominski at the meeting.
Wood added, “Another key thing to this is looking at an area in terms of economic development.
“And when we look at our analysis, we're gonna look at the parcels you have here and the businesses you have here, etc. because you have useful stormwater, you have high-speed internet access, you have access to the Casey Highway, and if you have natural gas, you can just check off another thing in that business attraction list.”
Brominski stated UGI expects the cost of installation to hover around $5 million and hope to net close to $4 million over time from customers in the area.
“That's where the $1 million makes up the difference,” he said.
Receipt of the grant money would lower the cost of the distribution line extensions below the $10,000 per home threshold deemed feasible for construction according to UGI's Growth Extension Tariff as part of their Get Gas Program, explained Brominski.
Without reaching this threshold, the project will not be completed.
As part of UGI's Get Gas Program, the utility company fronts the costs of installing the infrastructure and customers pay a secondary charge of around $500 per year for ten years for UGI to recoup that costs, said Brominski.
“The key is, they do not have to pay for the gas service up front, they would just pay that secondary customer charge for a period of ten years, then after ten years that charge goes away and you're back to our base rates.”
Waymart resident and former school board director for Western Wayne School District Donald McDonough said at the meeting he had walked Belmont Street to Route 6 with Joe O'Connor, polling residents about the developments, “... and we got a really good reception from the residents.”
He continued, “When I talked to Randy about what we were trying to do out in the school district in the community at that time was to give everybody an opportunity with the local businesses, the highway and the residential customers.”
Though full details of the installation process will not be negotiated until after UGI learns if the grant has been awarded, Brominski advised council the company will be looking to only repair what portions of road they dig up in the construction process in an effort to keep costs as low as possible.
Wood noted at the meeting she will discuss the proposal at the March 7 Canaan Township Board of Supervisors meeting as well.
WEDCO and UGI also sought support from the Wayne County Commissioners, who approved a letter of support at their meeting Thursday morning, February 15.