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Natural gas pipeline push continues in Centre Co.
By: Gary Sinderson
Written By: Marc Stempka
BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- With the continuing growth of the Marcellus Shale industry across the commonwealth and in Centre County, the push continues to try to share the natural gas resources found in the area. But a major hurdle in getting the gas out of the region and putting it to use in the area is a strong pipeline network.
Experts have said the natural gas reserves found below the area could last for decades, but most of the gas being extracted is being pumped out of the region and leaders are hoping a new pipeline in northern Centre County and other interconnects to current pipelines will help fuel the Centre region.
Susan Hannegan with the Centre County Planning Office said she is in touch with what is going on in the natural gas industry and where there is growth in the northeast and southwest areas of the country.
"The volume of gas coming out of those is so great that they're going to explore and build out the production in those areas," Hannegan said. "We also in Centre County lack the pipeline infrastructure to have all of our wells into production."
Centre County has more than 60 natural gas well sites, but only a third are totally active due to lack of connections. Leaders said more interconnects can provide more gas lines to communities where wells are drilled to get the gas moving.
Currently a new interconnect line is on the drawing board for the Snow Shoe area.
"Proposed this year is the construction of approximately 8 miles of pipeline that would connect from the Snow Shoe area north of Interstate 80 to the Texas Eastern Pipeline," Hannegan said. "[The] Texas Eastern is one of the three key large pipelines that cross the county."
In addition to moving the gas from the region is the effort to keep the gas here through more natural gas vehicle conversions and other uses for natural gas.
Centre County Planning Director Robert Jacobs said a lack of compressed natural gas fueling stations is usually cited as a problem.
"We're hoping once we start to get a number of vehicles converted to compressed natural gas we start to see more filling stations come online," Jacobs said.
Centre County is working with several neighboring counties in a regional approach to use grant money to convert more vehicles to natural gas power.
The new line proposed for the Snow Shoe area is still in the planning stage and no construction timeline has been set, planners said.