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Rocky conditions slow down pace of Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas expansion

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MASSENA — Rocky conditions are slowing down the pace for the Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas expansion into Franklin County.

“Extreme rock conditions presented problems. We have three really difficult bores to complete. We have two of those done. We’re just finishing the last one. We’ll have that finished in a couple of weeks,” General Manager James P. Ward said.

Work this summer has involved installing a high-pressure line, the first step in the project, from North Lawrence to Chateaugay, and Mr. Ward said that’s where crews have run into the rock issues. All three of the problem areas were in Brushton, he said.

Some customers have already gone online along the expansion route. In December, St. Lawrence Central School in Brasher Falls became the second of two large customers to take natural gas from the newly constructed 48-mile natural gas line. Service to North Country Dairy, North Lawrence, was turned on Nov. 26.

Along with the school district and North Country Dairy, several residential customers in the North Lawrence and Winthrop/Brasher Falls area had natural gas service made available to them.

“Brasher, Winthrop and North Lawrence have gas. They’ve had it since last fall. Things are good there. We’re putting additional distribution systems in there as we speak. We’ve been doing that for the summer,” Mr. Ward said.

He said Franklin County can expect to be on the gas line as soon as the bore is completed, but it’s difficult to tell when that will be because of the rock conditions.

“We’re getting very close,” Mr. Ward said.

While crews continue to forge ahead, he said, potential customers will have to be patient as they build the high-pressure line and start distributing gas from that.

“The building of additional systems will take several years. We won’t be able to get to everybody this year or next year. That’s always been the plan,” Mr. Ward said. “We know people are anxious to get us. It’ll just take some time.”

Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas began developing the distribution systems within the expansion area during the summer of 2013. Mr. Ward and other company officials met in November with Tri-Town residents, who are being hooked up to the natural gas pipeline as it makes its way from Norfolk to North Lawrence before branching out into Franklin County. Crews from Perras Excavating have been working on bringing the gas lines from the road to residences this summer.

The project itself dates back to the 1960s, Mr. Ward said, and came at a cost of $41 million over five years.

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