SWANTON —Franklin County homes and businesses may soon receive natural gas deliveries made much as propane deliveries are today. If so, this direct-to-the-door approach could be a first for natural gas service in Vermont.
Energtek North Country Inc., a subsidiary of Energtek Inc., is proposing to deliver natural gas via truck to business and residential customers. Currently, to use natural gas customers must be located along a pipeline.
Energtek, a global company that began in Eastern Europe and has offices in New York City, proposes to change that by leasing natural gas tanks, which would then be filled from trucks making deliveries from a natural gas facility in Swanton. The trucks will be filled with gas from an existing pipeline.
“This is a new opportunity,” said Energtek North Country, CEO Tim Nulty. “We’re going to be able to deliver 15 percent cheaper than existing fuel sources.”
The company expects to hire a minimum staff at first, perhaps as few as three people, but Nulty expects the company to grow steadily. “Ten years from now there could be 50 people,” he said.
Most of the employees will be drivers. They will double as technicians. Those jobs will be highly skilled and high paying, said Nulty.
Asked about the potential economic impact on the region of broader access to natural gas, Nulty pointed to the possible savings for customers. Residents paying $2,000 each year to heat their homes, could see a $400 savings. “The long term impact is a non-trivial reduction in the cost of your business or your life,” he said.
The technology involved in storing natural gas in tanks has been used by Energtek in other countries, but this is the first time the tanks will be used to provide fuel for home and business heating, explained Nulty.
Energtek will retain ownership of the tanks. “They’re very special tanks and the technology inside them is proprietary,” he said.
The company will begin by serving business customers, and hopes to quickly add residential customers. The Vermont Department of Public Service (PSB) has concerns about residential customers having a backup source of heat should something go wrong with the natural gas tanks or should Energtek be unable to make a fuel delivery.
Nulty said he understood their concerns, which he believes Energtek will be able to address.
A site plan for the truck fueling facility is before the Swanton Development Review Board. It will be located on land Energtek purchased from the Town of Swanton earlier this year. The land, off of Interstate 89, Exit 20, had been set aside for additional industrial park expansion by Swanton and already had an Act 250 permit for industrial uses. It will need a minor adjustment for this specific use.
The site also requires a stormwater permit and permission to operate from the PSB.
Nulty said he expects Energtek within 90 days of receiving all of their permits.
Initially, the site will have only an administrative building and space to park and fuel the trucks. As the business grows, a truck maintenance shop may be added.