Opinion: Compressed gas a good alternative
Let’s not feel bad because we’re not going to have a pipeline to Ticonderoga and maybe won’t have one to Middlebury or Rutland either. International Paper did the right thing and I would hope Vermont officials will make a wise choice and perform as good stewards of our environment and economy as well.
IP decided not to pursue its pipeline for one simple reason — it cost too much. This will also be true for Phases I and III. Over the last two years the paper mill realized that compressed natural gas (CNG) was a far better investment. Having natural gas trucked to the plant would allow them the same benefits without having to deal with the long-term investment and infrastructure of a pipe.
Running on CNG would require only a few trucks and a decanting facility at the mill ($2 million or $3 million vs. $130 million). It would be relatively the same price per unit when purchased in these quantities and would allow them to stay flexible in the future.
Arguments that one county or business would have an advantage over the other due to the availability of natural gas are moot. Natural gas can be part of our energy portfolio in Middlebury and in Rutland. The real question is how to get it delivered.
Pipelines are expensive, outdated, disfiguring scars on our landscapes. And it’s the poor, the elderly and all ratepayers that will end up paying for them.
Natural gas can be our “bridge fuel” to the future and compressing and trucking it to these innovative “gas islands” makes good financial sense.
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