Hamilton Approves Gas Utility

Voters decide at public referendum April 17

(Hamilton, NY – Feb. 2012) Following a public hearing at its Feb. 14 monthly meeting, Hamilton’s Village Board unanimously approved legislation that will establish a municipal gas utility for the village if approved by village voters in an April 17 referendum.

Village Administrator Sean Graham opened the public hearing with a presentation on the history and deliberations that led the board to consider establishing a gas utility. The current low price of natural gas, its local availability and the fact that it is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel were all considerations, Graham said.

Three large potential users – Hamilton Central School, Community Memorial Hospital, and Colgate University – have expressed interest in natural gas, Graham said, and their commitment to natural gas would make the project economically feasible at no cost to taxpayers.

Graham also addressed the regulations that ensure the safety of natural gas, as well as the advantages of creating a local utility to manage the sale of gas in the village. He and Mayor Margaret Miller both stressed that natural gas is a “middle-term” solution to energy needs, and said the village is already looking into longer-term sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar, hydro and geothermal.

Public comments at the hearing ranged from concerns about the sources of natural gas to inquiries about the timetable for residential service in the village. The processes used in mining natural gas were a concern of some who addressed the hearing. Others were interested in how soon residential and other business customers could be connected to the Hamilton utility, with one commenter noting that the availability of natural gas would be “a huge incentive to residential development.”

Miller said that the board’s action does not commit the village to construction, but rather creates the gas utility, enabling the village to move forward with additional planning, including design and soliciting bids. In the time leading up to the public referendum, Graham said that the village would examine the cost of making service available to residential and business customers on an earlier timetable.

The public referendum on the village legislation is scheduled at Hamilton Public Library from noon until 9 p.m. on April 17. Any registered voter in the Village of Hamilton will be qualified to vote.

 

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