If you want to work with Consol Energy Inc. as it starts to develop the natural gas resources at the Pittsburgh International , the route to a contract is the same as supplying any of the company’s other operations. Safety and insurance will be evaluated and interested suppliers will be vetted through the company’s ISNetworld process, said Randy Albert, chief operating officer of gas operations for CNX Gas company, a division of Consol (NYSE: CNX). Albert, along with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Bradley Penrod, president and chief strategy officer of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, discussed the project Thursday morning just before the close of the Shale Insight 2013 conference in Philadelphia. “Doing work at the airport, other than security of the (Federal Aviation Administration), it won’t be any different than working with us anywhere else,” Albert said.
For taxpayers, the work at the airport means the facility will be able to better stand on its own. The county won’t be able to lower property taxes necessarily as a result of the project, due to rules governing how airport revenue can be spent. But the county won’t need to step in financially to support the airport, Fitzgerald said. “When we built the airport county taxpayers did invest in it,” Fitzgerald said. “They will get that money back.” Plus he noted when the airport lost its hub the state came in and helped pay down some debt and now this project will return some of that money to taxpayers as well. “The biggest benefit is the job growth in and around the airport and tax dollars that won’t be needed for that,” he said.
With the project, which is estimated to generate about $500 million in royalties over the entire term, the county can invest in infrastructure around the airport, making sites ready for companies that might be interested in locating in that area. “Western Pennsylvania is pretty hilly. It makes it challenging to build infrastructure and roads and water lines for companies to locate there,” he said. Using the money to develop “shovel-ready” sites will allow the region to try to lure companies to join Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) and Bernadette Honsaker that are already out there, he said.
For the airport itself, funding from the project is expected to be reinvested in upgrading the facility and infrastructure as well as lowering the costs for airlines in Pittsburgh, said Penrod. All are incentives that officials hope will bring increased air service to the region.Already, with the $50 million bonus paid to the airport, the average cost per passenger was reduced 3.8 percent; landing fees were dropped 12.2 percent and terminal fees are down 0.3 percent, Albert said.