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September 19, 2013

Natural gas firm still interested in area business

By Joe Mahoney The Daily Star
Cooperstown Crier

---- — A Boston-based supplier of compressed natural gas has determined that, without a network of customers in the Cooperstown area, it would “not be economical at this time” for Otsego County’s government buildings to be converted to compressed natural gas.

However, while Bassett has yet to show any public interest in converting its heating equipment from oil-fired to natural gas boilers, a representative of XNG Inc. said the company is actively trying to find other clients throughout upstate New York, including Otsego County.

“We simply need a certain amount of committed volume to make it economical to bring gas services to a county,” said Matt Smith, XNG’s vice president for marketing. “We are actively offering and developing our gas option for the state of New York.”

Anti-drilling activists have urged Bassett executives to spurn overtures from XNG, contending the introduction of trucked compressed natural gas into the county could result in an eventual build-out of gas services throughout Cooperstown as well as the installation of feeder pipelines from larger transmission systems.

Representatives of XNG sought to put distance between its projects and the controversy over fracking, saying the company simply transports compressed natural gas to clients and has no involvement with drilling operations.

The company’s website touts the advantages of compressed gas including significant reductions in the “carbon footprint” for those institutions that have switched form oil to gas. However, Adrian Kuzminski, moderator of Sustainable Otsego, and county Rep. John Kosmer, D-Fly Creek, have argued Bassett should look into relying on renewable forms of energy rather than staying dependent on fossil fuels.

In a recent letter to a county official, Jack Flood, a representative of XNG, noted data supplied by the county indicate county office buildings last year consumed 36,061 gallons of No. 2 home heating oil and 43,163 gallons of propane.

“The conversion of the county’s equipment to CNG (compressed natural gas) as a stand alone project would not be economical at this time,” Flood wrote.

However, Flood added, “Depending on the outcome of the Bassett Medical Center project and the reception to a municipal gas utility in Cooperstown, the feasibility of servicing the county complex may be doable.”

Contacted in Boston, Smith said XNG’s interest in expanding into Otsego County does not hinge on whether Bassett partners with his company. He noted other large users of energy are being approached to determine if they may be interested in acquiring gas from XNG.

By converting to gas, Smith said, companies and institutions that heat their buildings with heating oil could realize savings of up to 40 percent and those that use propane could cut costs by 20 to 25 percent.

County Rep. Linda Rowinski, D-Oneonta, the chairwoman of the county’s Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns Committee, said she remained intrigued by the possibility of cutting costs by lining up a natural gas supplier such as XNG.

“Right now, we’re not prepared to move forward,” she said. “But it’s not a dead issue.”

Bassett, one of the largest consumers of energy in the region, has shown no indication that it is interested in making the conversion to gas.

“We have not responded to this particular vendor,” Bassett spokeswoman Diane Wells said when asked about the overtures from XNG.