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St. Lawrence Central begins conversion to natural gas

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BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Gas started the gas hook-up process Friday afternoon at the St. Lawrence Central School District, and not a moment too soon, according to Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr.

He told board of education members they had heating issues in areas of the school this week because of the cold snap and had to bring in daily deliveries of propane to tide them over.

Among the trouble spots was the middle school/high school library, where the board holds their monthly sessions, Mr. Vigliotti said.

“We have had ongoing heating issues here,” he said. “This the first time (the library) has been up to this temperature.”

Mr. Vigliotti said six boilers were installed as part of their capital project, anticipating the conversion to natural gas when St. Lawrence Gas expanded into Franklin County. Two of those six boilers were converted to propane to heat the buildings until they had switched over to natural gas. All six boilers will be converted to natural gas, according to Fred H. McLaughlin, district director of transportation, buildings and grounds.

This week, though, “we’re operating this building with two boilers,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

The conversion to natural gas could have been done earlier, he told board members, but he opted to delay it for a couple of weeks because of other pressing issues the district was having, including well water problems at both the elementary and middle/high school buildings. The water issues will be addressed over the holiday break, he said. “St. Lawrence Gas a couple of weeks ago was ready to do the switch over. With the problems with air and water quality, I thought it was prudent to wait two weeks. When you make that decision, it complicates things on the propane side,” the superintendent said.

With the cold weather, however, problems began to arise with the heating.

“Fred’s worked around the clock,” Mr. Vigliotti said. “We went to daily deliveries during the coldest times. It’s been a struggle.”

But now those struggles may be over as the conversion is made to natural gas beginning Friday, a process that could take a few days.

District taxpayers in December 2011 had approved an $8.2 million capital project that would allow the district to convert from heating oil to natural gas once St. Lawrence Gas passed by the district during its expansion into Franklin County.

That will allow the district to make the conversion to natural gas and save money in the process. They are also converting from steam to hot water, which will also save money. The steam line and heating units date back to the 1950s.

Contracts were awarded in April to Meridian Construction Corporation for general work, Black River Plumbing, Heating & AC for Mechanical Work, S&L Electric, Inc. for electric work and Burns Brothers, Inc., for plumbing work.

“It’s a great accomplishment for the board and Mr. Putman (Stephen M. Putman, retired superintendent),” Mr. Vigliotti said. “It’s been a long road.”

On Friday, St. Lawrence Central School became the second of two large customers taking natural from the newly constructed 48-mile natural gas transmission line, according to St. Lawrence Gas officials. Service to North Country Dairy was turned on Nov. 26.

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

“Natural gas is now flowing for the first time ever in previously unserved sections of northern New York state and is now available within the designated distribution areas located within the first section of the transmission line that runs from Norfolkto North Lawrence,” Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas General Manager James P. Ward said.

“Providing natural gas service from our new line is a great milestone for our company and for the entire north country,” he said.“Residents and businesses along the pipeline path will begin to realize the benefits of burning natural gas and now have an economic and environmentally desirable fuel choice.”

New customers that have had natural gas lines installed to their homes and businesses will receive a yellow door hanger that will notify them they can now make arrangements with their contractor to complete any work necessary. They can then call Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas to schedule the installation of a natural gas meter and have their natural gas service turned on.

Mr. Ward said construction will continue on the transmission line to the east of North Lawrenceover the winter as weather permits.

Gas service from North Lawrence to Chateaugay is expected to be available in 2014.

For more information, call the Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas office at 800-673-3301 or visit its website at www.stlawrencegas.com

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