Energy regulators from New York approved two natural gas pipeline projects in the North Country this week.
The state Public Service Commission announced Thursday that it has approved a proposal by the St. Lawrence Gas Company which aims to construct a 50 mile pipeline into northern Franklin County.
Currently, the existing line serves eastern St. Lawrence County.
Additionally, St. Lawrence Gas wants to build a 50-mile network of distribution lines which would expand natural gas service in the North Country. Officials say the plan would add up to 2,500 new customers.
The Public Service Commission approved that proposal, too.
The commission's chairman, Garry Brown, says the expansion introduces natural gas as an alternative home energy source for residents of Franklin and St. Lawrence counties.
"The high cost of energy has made it difficult to farm, do business, and attract jobs, and has increased the cost of living for local residents," Brown said.
"New businesses, existing farms and other businesses and the residents in the project area can benefit from the availability of natural gas," he added. "This expansion will have a large and positive impact on the region's economic viability."
According to Brown, homeowners in the North Country are more or less limited to oil, propane, coal and wood as fuel options.
State officials believe the project will boost the region's farming industry and bring other financial benefits to residents and businesses.
Energy customers will save some $60 million over 20 years with the natural gas option, generating $32 million in revenue statewide in both direct and indirect spending.
Construction of the pipeline itself should result in $1.7 million in additional state tax revenue over the next two decades, officials say.
The pipe will run along an underground transmission line between the St. Lawrence County village of Norfolk and the Franklin County town of Chateaugay.