Benefits for hosting natural gas drilling boom? Don’t be shy

Ever since the advent of the natural gas drilling boom in our region, a legitimate concern of residents has been that the people of this area should benefit from being at the epicenter of the exploration. And that accessibility has become even more important as natural gas user rates have become more favorable in recent years.

South Williamsport Borough Council last week approved a program that could help property owners connect to gas lines at a reduced rate. Under the program, UGI would install gas lines along yet-to-be-determined streets. Property owners could be eligible for allowances from UGI that would lower hook-up fees, allowances that would be earned by purchasing natural gas appliances.

That would allow homeowners to connect with much less expense.

It could be argued this is a subsidy to a small number of homeowners at the expense of borough labor and equipment. But there are lots of borough services provided to homeowners that only limited groups use. Besides, if the arrangement is done more than once with UGI, the borough could use Act 13 natural gas impact fees to offset the costs at no burden to taxpayers, according to borough Manager Michael D. Miller.

Beyond that, the natural gas services to new areas would enhance property values. And finally, natural gas is considered by most people to be an environmentally friendly fuel.

Our big picture view is that whether it’s a natural gas fueling station for buses or easier access to gas lines, the area needs to benefit from being home to the natural gas drilling boom as much as is realistically possible.