Gov. David Paterson made a rare visit to the North Country Tuesday to announce $2.5 million in funding for a natural gas pipeline into northern Franklin County.
St. Lawrence Gas wants to extend a natural gas pipeline 48 miles, from the town of Stockholm in St. Lawrence County to the village of Chateaugay in Franklin County.
The funding, announced by Paterson during a press conference in Malone, will help close a multi-million-dollar funding gap on the project, which has a $21 million price tag. St. Lawrence Gas has committed $14 million to it, Franklin County has pledged $1.4 million, and state Sen. Betty Little secured another $2 million.
Supporters of the project say it will reduce energy costs for homeowners, dairy farmers and large users in the northern part of the county like McCadam Cheese in Chateaugay, the Malone Central School District, Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone and the state Department of Correctional Services, which runs several prisons around Malone and Chateaugay.
"It saves McCadam Cheese and retains their employees," said state Assemblywoman Janet Duprey. "It also helps the dairy farmers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties who send their milk to the McCadam plant."
Duprey said having natural gas available could be an incentive for businesses that want to locate in the area.
"We have to have energy alternatives, and natural gas is certainly one of those," she said. "I think overall it benefits not just the northern part of Franklin County but the whole North Country."
Richard Campbell, president and general manager of St. Lawrence Gas, said expansion of natural gas distribution is "vitally important" to the North Country.
"Bringing natural gas to this new market area will provide an economical and environmentally preferred fuel choice to residential, commercial and industrial customers," Campbell said in a news release.
The project has had a few critics. Some have said the availability of natural gas will have a negative impact on fuel oil businesses in the region. Others have questioned why money from state and county taxpayers should be given to a private company.
The project still needs to gain the approval of the state Public Service Commission.
The state grant for St. Lawrence Gas comes from the Upstate Regional Blueprint Fund, a $120 million fund created earlier this year to spur economic development and small business growth. Paterson handed out a total of $17.5 million for 15 projects across Upstate New York, including $975,000 for the Schroon Revitalization Group. The money will be used in the initial development of an 81-room resort in Schroon Lake.
Paterson, in a news release, called the grants "a sound investment in our Upstate communities that will help keep our entrepreneurs, workers and families in New York."
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or email@example.com.