Corning Gas makes pitch to Monticello
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO A public hearing on a gas distribution franchise application in the Village of Monticello was left open in anticipation of an even larger public meeting.
Last week, the village board listened to the public and a Corning Gas representative talk about Corning’s desire to bring natural gas to Monticello.
Corning, which does not drill for gas, is seeking a non-exclusive franchise agreement with the village and the townships of Forestburgh and Thompson to distribute gas locally via a line it would build from the Millennium Pipeline in Forestburgh north to the vicinity of the Concord hotel site.
Though other utilities like NYSEG have had similar agreements in place for the past decade, none have moved forward, and propane is the closest thing to natural gas residents can currently receive.
Corning’s vice president of administration, Jerry Sleve, told village officials that his company is intent on opening up a new market, though Corning’s plans are subject to an as-yet-incomplete economic analysis and NYS Public Service Commission scrutiny.
Much of last week’s hearing on the franchise agreement focused on ensuring everyone in the village has access to the gas.
“We represent everybody, not just the businesses,” remarked Village Trustee Victor Marinello. “… If somebody lives two miles out and there’s two houses on that street, they deserve the same service as anybody else.”
Sleve assured that, while potentially large customers will be approached first to ensure profitability, Corning’s intent is to get gas to any Monticello resident who wants it.
“We have 15,000 residential customers,” he said, referencing Corning’s upstate franchises. “It’s what we do best.”
The pipeline itself would likely run along Route 42 until reaching the village, explained Sleve, at which point it could take a variety of routes (including some that would either be a part of Broadway’s renovation or avoid it altogether). Village officials wondered if Corning would be willing to pay a host fee for running the line through Monticello.
Sleve said Corning doesn’t pay such a fee with any of its 30 franchise agreements, but if Monticello decides a host fee is necessary, the company will simply pass the cost on to its consumers.
“All it does,” remarked Sleve, “is tax the residents again.”
Rates are set by the state, he added, so “every residential customer that’s connected to this gas line will pay the same exact amount of money per unit of heat.”
Those rates are generally cheaper than oil and electric. However, for most people, an expensive conversion will have to be undertaken and sometimes new appliances bought to make a home ready to use natural gas.
“If you heat with propane,” Sleve added, “it generally is a less expensive conversion.”
As with other utilities, the homeowner is responsible for all equipment and lines on the inside of the building. However, though conversions are not covered, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) can help with the cost of heating a home.
Corning’s entrance into the community would also bring a service center, said Sleve, as the state requires odor calls to be answered within three minutes.
Technicians would train local emergency responders in how to fight gas-fueled fires, he added.
Residents and officials, however, were not completely sold on the idea last week, so the hearing was adjourned rather than closed. No date has yet been set for another hearing