DIMOCK TOWNSHIP -- A school district in Susquehanna County that has been surrounded by natural gas drilling for years is finally able to use that natural gas for heat.
This bitter cold week is the first that Elk Lake schools are using natural gas and officials say making the switch from oil is going to mean big savings.
On a day that started well below zero in Susquehanna County, students were nice and warm in the Elk Lake schools thanks to natural gas coming from the Marcellus Shale right underneath where they live.
Natural gas started fueling the new boiler system over the weekend, something the district has been working on for years.
"It's beyond exciting. We've seen an improvement in the past few days, the heat in the school, the consistency and how fast things warm up," said Elk Lake schools energy manager Kim Guiton.
"Our local natural resources are helping our school system. It's been a tremendous boost," said Elk Lake Superintendent Kenneth Cuomo.
The boiler system was part of a $5 million upgrade. It is meant to heat the elementary and high school buildings more efficiently.
Having natural gas fueling them instead of oil is expected to save between $110,000 and $190,000 a year.
"We're already saving, which is a benefit to our taxpayers."
Not only can the school benefit from natural gas, some homes and farms near here can also tap in. They can heat with natural gas as well.
"The northern tier is getting gas on a very, very rapid schedule," said Mike German, and official with Leatherstocking Gas Company.
Leatherstocking hooked up the school. Anyone who lives along a line running from there to a connection with Cabot Oil and Gas two miles away can now get gas service.
Some children come from families that have been surrounded by drilling for years, but only now can some of them use that gas themselves.
"It's interesting people here never thought about heating with natural gas and they were unfamiliar with it, but the majority of the country heats with natural gas," German said.
Leatherstocking Gas Company has already run gas lines to homes and businesses in Montrose. It has plans for natural gas service in numerous other communities in the northern tier.