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St. Lawrence Gas hopes expansion will add 4,000 new customers

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BRASHER FALLS - Now that the Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas expansion is moving along, company officials met this week with local residents who would be hooked up to the natural gas pipeline as it makes its way from Norfolk to North Lawrence before branching out into Franklin County.

It was a long time coming, dating back to the 1960’s, according to Assistant General Manager James P. Ward.

“We’ve been at this project actually a lot longer than many of you think,” Mr. Ward told residents who filled half of the St. Lawrence Central auditorium to hear about the new service. “We’re finally here.

It’s come at a project cost of $41 million over five years, he said.

“It’s big for us. It’s big for the community. The big part of the benefit it does not go to us, it goes to the community” through savings customers will receive by converting to natural gas, he said.

“The bores have been our biggest issue. We’ve run into extreme rock. It slowed us down, but there’s light at the end,” he noted.

Mr. Ward said they currently have about 15,700 customers and, with the expansion, they hope to add another 4,000 customers.

As part of the project, contractors are laying down 34 miles of 8-inch steel gas main, 1.1 miles of 6-inch steel gas main and 12.5 miles of 4-inch steel gas main. Nine distribution systems will service approximately 4,000 customers, which Mr. Ward said includes four correctional facilities and two dairy-related industries.

He explained how the gas would make its way from western Canada, where it’s purchased, to homes along the new gas route in St. Lawrence County. It’s carried through a high-pressure transmission line - a steel pipe - to a pressure reducing station. From there, the gas is sent via a half-inch-sized plastic pipe to homes.

“That’s what you’ll have in your yard coming into your house,” Mr. Ward said. “This is pretty good stuff, but it’s also something you don’t want to dig into with a shovel.” At this point, he said, the company’s 8-inch transmission line from Norfolk to North Lawrence has been complete, as has testing. They are now preparing to energize the pipes, which will be done the week of Nov. 10, allowing them to bring service to North Country Dairy in North Lawrence, he said.

Service for customers in Brasher, Winthrop and near North Country Dairy in North Lawrence will likely start seeing their service the week of Nov. 17, according to Mr. Ward.

“We hope to turn on the rest of the pipeline from North Lawrence to Chateaugay in December,” he said.

Customer Service Advisor Philip A. St. Amand told residents that they would need to apply to have gas service at their homes.

“All requests for installation have to be in writing on company forms,” which were available in their Massena or Malone offices, he said.

The installation process would require a visit to the person’s home.

“A visit to the premises is required to determine the meter location and note the location of the sewer or septic system,” Mr. St. Amand said.

They wanted to avoid any contact with the sewer system on the property, he said, and that could involve a follow-up sewer inspection.

“We may arrange to have a plumbing contractor contact you to probe the sewer pipe and determine the direction of the sewer pipe. We have to locate that sewer. They may also inspect neighboring properties. There is no cost for the inspection,” he said.

A construction crew will run the gas line to the home at a spot located by St. Lawrence Gas officials, according to Mr. St. Amand, who said all the work would be done outside, so there was no requirement for the resident to be home.

The crew will leave a hanger on the door noting that the work had been done.

“You can now contact a contractor to hook up your equipment,” Mr. St. Amand said.

After the equipment has been installed, residents will need to call St. Lawrence Gas to have a service representative come out to set their meter and check the appliances to ensure they’re properly vented.

“It’s a safety inspection,” he said.

“One of the key things is, you have questions, call us. We want to get in when we set the meter to make sure everything is safe,” Mr. Ward said.

Tom Carroll, damage prevention supervisor, stressed the importance of safety, telling the residents to dial 811 before they did any digging on their property.

“It is the law. It’s a simple message, but it’s a very critical message when there’s underground facilities in your neighborhood,” he said. “Eighty percent of all damages would not happen if everyone followed the digsafe guidelines.”

After receiving the call, St. Lawrence Gas representatives will visit the property and mark any of the company’s underground facilities in the area, paving the way for the person to begin digging without hitting any of the lines, he said.

“This isn’t new for us,” Mr. Ward said, but it’s new for you. So that’s why we wanted to go into the detail.”

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