CHAMBERSBURG–The Chambersburg Gas Department has received the Customer Service Award several times, but the addition of the Operational Excellence award, was a result of the new program to replace aged gas lines recently funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through a grant award. On April 18, 2023, PHMSA announced a $5.2 million grant to the Borough of Chambersburg to replace cast iron pipes in the Borough; one of the largest grants ever awarded to Chambersburg.
The Borough is one of only two municipalities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that own and operate its own natural gas utility – the other being the City of Philadelphia. According to the Borough, it strives to generate benefits for its residents, providing customers with prompt, professional natural gas service and a reliable, safe system with affordable and stable rates. Since 2000, the Borough has replaced more than 21 of its 26 miles of cast iron pipes. Just less than five miles of legacy cast iron remain; however, these lines have been cost prohibitive to replace due to their location under state owned roadways and in downtown areas.
The Borough’s award-winning project will reduce the risk of methane leaks from existing pipelines, create well-paying jobs, promote economic growth, and benefit disadvantaged rural and urban communities with the safe provision of natural gas. The continued supply of reliable natural gas is critical to maintain economic growth and promote development in the Borough, which is one of the fastest growing areas in Franklin County. It is estimated that the Gas Department injected nearly $4 million into the local economy in 2021 (plus indirect benefits to the local economy of approximately $8 million). Residents of the Borough pay some of the lowest gas prices in Pennsylvania — an estimated 44 percent lower than the average private utility customer. Finally, the proposed project is intended to provide natural gas service to several areas of the Borough that are classified as historically disadvantaged communities, ensuring that these communities are supplied with affordable natural gas.
The Operational Excellence award recognized this outstanding project. The Customer Service award recognized the significant customer growth that the Chambersburg Gas Department has experienced in the past year.
“We couldn’t be prouder to be honored with these awards,” said Jeffrey Stonehill, Borough Manager and Director of Utilities. “This is the culmination of a lot of work from a lot of people who really care about providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy to our community. But these awards are not a final destination. We are committed to continuing to look for ways to improve our operations and service to our customers.”
“I would like to especially give thanks to John Leary, Director of the Gas Utility, as well as his assistant, Jon Mason, and Roy Schweizer, Gas Crew Supervisor, for these awards. Through their leadership, the Gas Department team has addressed infrastructure needs, safety requirements, all while maintaining the lowest residential natural gas rates in Pennsylvania. These awards are a recognition of the entire department’s excellence,” added Stonehill. “Chambersburg utilities are regularly recognized as some of the best public systems in the USA.”
Chambersburg is the only municipality in Pennsylvania to operate all their own municipal utilities including electric, natural gas, water, sewer, and storm sewer systems. Chambersburg has the largest borough budget in Pennsylvania as result of these utilities but some of the lowest utility rates.