PITTSBURGH, PA — You could say that the Penn Hills school system near Pittsburgh will go to any depths to reduce its energy bills, now that it’s made a deal to drill its own natural gas wells. The community’s school board signed an agreement with Penneco Oil Co. to drill up to 10 wells on school district property.

The schools are to collect 12.5% royalties and receive a predetermined share of the gas. The gas produced for the school district will not be enough to meet all its energy needs, but it will reduce its heating costs by 50% and delay a tax increase, officials stated.

A year ago it cost $450,000 to heat the district’s schools, as the price of natural gas was almost six times higher than normal. The wells still need to be approved by the city and state.

A nearby school system has been taking advantage of its natural gas deposits since 1996. About five miles away, the Plum Borough district has three wells, which officials said generated royalties of $11,000 last year.

Publication date: 07/16/2001