(Hamilton, NY – March 2012) Hamilton residents and owners of village properties and businesses are invited to an informational meeting at Hamilton Central School Thursday, March 29, at 7 p.m., to learn the latest about a proposal to create a municipal gas utility.

At its Feb. 14 meeting, the Hamilton Village Board unanimously approved legislation to create a not-for-profit municipal gas utility charged with designing, building and operating a system to buy natural gas from third-party sources and distribute it to business and residential customers locally.

The legislation approved by the board is subject to ratification by registered voters in the village of Hamilton during an April 17 referendum (noon to 9 p.m. at Hamilton Public Library).

“The village has been working to address some of the questions that were asked at a public hearing prior to the boardʼs vote on the municipal gas utility,” said Hamilton Mayor Margaret Miller. “The informational meeting March 29 will be an opportunity for us to report on our progress.”

Miller said that several comments during the Feb. 14 public hearing were directed at the timetable for making gas service available to customers in the village.

“We originally proposed to make service available as soon as possible to three major users – Hamilton Central School, Community Memorial Hospital and Colgate – with other business and residential customers to be added as demand and resources allowed,” Miller said. “The questions at the public hearing suggested opportunities that might be available if our initial build-out could include service to more customers. Our consultants are working on that question, and we have mailed a survey to property owners to test the level of community interest.”

Miller said the other topic that drew the most interest at the public hearing was how the gas utility would relate to hydraulic fracturing.

“There is obvious concern, not only in Hamilton, but statewide and nationally, about the process of ʻfrackingʼ in extraction of natural gas,” Miller said. “Hamilton will not be mining for gas. Our proposed municipal gas utility will be structured to buy gas from existing third-party sources and distribute it to users in the village. Our plan is to provide access to an energy source that is cleaner and more economical than some of the other fuels currently available in the village. We respect the concern and expect to explain the distinction again during the public meeting.”

Miller said the meeting will begin with a presentation about work on the project to date before being opened for discussion.

By martha

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