Source: Star Beacon

Originally Posted on January 5th, 2020 by BRIAN HAYTCHER

Natural gas has started flowing in quantities into Ashtabula County, and it is poised to have an impact on the local economy.

The Risberg Pipeline had a ribbon cutting in December, marking a sharp increase in the availability of natural gas in Ashtabula County.

The pipeline runs from Meadville, Pennsylvania, to North Kingsville. The natural gas is being delivered to Dominion East Ohio.

The city of Conneaut placed a pair of taps on the pipeline to be used for future development. One is located near the city’s East Side Industrial Park and another near the intersection of Route 7 and Underridge Road, City Manager Jim Hockaday said.

“For business and industry, infrastructure is vitally important,” State Rep. John Patterson, who represents Ashtabula County, said.

Natural gas is a significantly cheaper source of energy than coal fired, hydro-electric or nuclear power, according to information from the United States Energy Information Administration.

Natural gas costs 2.37 mills, or 2.3 tenths of a cent, per kilowatt-hour, less than half the price of the closest competitor, fossil fuel, which costs 5.19 mills per kilowatt-hour, according to the EIA. The most expensive form of energy, nuclear power, costs 10.78 mills per kilowatt-hour.

Local leaders have expounded on the need for natural gas in Ashtabula County throughout the course of the pipeline construction.

Growth Partnership of Ashtabula County President Greg Myers previously said that the county has lost out on development projects because of the lack of natural gas.

“It’s been the last thing we’ve needed for years,” Patterson said. “We’ve checked all the boxes for years.”

RH energytrans, who operates the Risberg Pipeline, partnered with JobsOhio for the project. JobsOhio provided a $4 million loan for the project, according to JobsOhio’s website. In addition to the monetary support, JobsOhio also helped RH navigate the agency approval process, according to JobsOhio’s website.

“[Natural gas is] like electricity or water or sewer, it’s part of that basic infrastructure,” Hockaday said.

RH energytrans is in contact with Petmin, a South Africa-based company that has announced plans to build a pig iron plant in Ashtabula.

“Without the gas, the Petmin project would not be taking place,” Patterson said.

In addition to the Petmin project, Patterson cited a number of other possible uses for natural gas. One, liquefied natural gas, could be used by a number of different sources. Freight vessels and commercial fleets use liquefied natural gas for fuel, Patterson said. Additional, LNG could be shipped to New England or overseas, where pipelines have not or cannot be built, he added.

Four components are necessary for growth, infrastructure, an educated workforce, a health workforce and quality of life, Patterson said.

“I’m bullish on Ashtabula’s future,” Patterson said.

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