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NG Advantage CEO Addresses Community's Concerns Over Fenton Natural Gas

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TOWN OF FENTON, NY -

A little more than a week after NG Advantage broke ground on the Natural Gas Compressor Station on West Service Road in Fenton, the CEO of the company, Rico Biasetti, tried to clear the air about misconceptions regarding the project.

"The biggest difference between us and a pipeline is a pipeline comes in and that gas could be going to New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and the gas that we're delivering is staying local," said Biasetti.

The trucks, which will fill up at the station and transport the gas will not travel farther than 200 miles according to Biasetti, but it's the path past multiple Chenango Valley District Schools that has a lot of residents concerned.

"The trailers don't leave in bunches, they leave one at a time, about one every half-hour apart," said Biasetti. He added there will be an average of 50 trucks making round-trips. The CEO says the number of vehicles on the road depends on the season.

"We have a winter time peak, which might be little more and we have a summer time lull that will be a little bit less, but on average, we'll be using 50 trailers a day," said Biasetti. He added there will be around 25 or 30 trucks per day during the first year of operations while the project is still in Phase One.

Construction will be broken up into two phases, the first is expected to be done in November 2017 and the other is supposed to be ready for November 2018. Biasetti says job opportunities will increase from year one to year two.

"We will have 50 full-time jobs available for Phase One, which should be done this November and we will have a total of 150 full-time positions for the next Phase," said Biasetti. "Positions available include truck drivers, maintenance personnel, operations personnel, along with sales, accountants and other office positions."

In addition to the shifting number of jobs, Phase One will also be a smaller station to start out with. It will comprise of four compressors, while the Energy Company expects to expand to twelve by 2018. Operations will be 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Biasetti isn't worried about leaks, fires or explosions because the gas is so lightweight compared to air.

"It rises up into the air and dissipates, it's not like propane, where propane sinks and that's where you have a lot of problems," said Biasetti.

He was shocked to hear the Chenango Valley School District is hiring a lawyer to challenge the Town of Fenton Planning Board's decision to approve the project with an Article 78 that would place a temporary injunction on the project until the matter can be resolved in the State Supreme Court.

"I was surprised to be honest, we were never asked to attend the meeting, but we're willing to work with the school committee, however they see fit," said Biasetti.

It's costing the company around $85 million to build the station, $35 million in 2017 and $50 million in 2018, but the CEO says residents should see tax breaks immediately.

"The immediate tax benefit, just bringing in the equipment is $800,000 that's for Phase One, it'll be more for Phase Two," said Biasetti. He added that NG Advantage is working with the Town of Fenton to figure out how additional property taxes will be lowered for community members.

The Director of Operations, Safety and Community Outreach says all of the equipment goes through a rigorous set of safety test.

"The product and the engineering that goes behind the compression of it, the transportation of it, the trailers, are all developed with a lot of different safety features on them," said Parent.

He added that the Company has a set of Standard Operating Procedures that they follow exactly every time they operate.

"We have a set of standard operating procedures, when we're loading or unloading our trucks, even when we're performing maintenance on our trucks, including personal protection equipment all the way to hearing conservation programs," said Parent.

The company, which has two other Stations in Milton, Vermont and Pembroke, New Hampshire, is aware of the community's hesitation to the project, but says they are committed to bridging the relationship with the local residents.

They are planning a community discussion forum for later this month or early next month and says more details will be available soon.

In the meantime, they will be at the Greater Binghamton Job Fair on Friday, June 15 and the Delaware County Job Fair on June 20 to hire local employees and discuss concerns with residents in person.