Regulator won’t reconsider its OK of natural gas pipeline

VERMONT — The Vermont Public Service Board on Friday said it would not reconsider the permission it had already granted to Vermont Gas Systems to build a 43-mile natural gas pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury and Vergennes.
Opponents of the so-called “Addison Natural Gas Project” had requested that the regulator reconsider the Certificate of Public Good it had granted to Vermont Gas in December 2013 because the projected price of the pipeline had jumped 78 percent.
“Although a number of circumstances have changed since our original decision,” the PSB wrote in the order they released late on Jan. 8, “the most significant of which is the much higher estimated cost of the project, the new evidence does not alter our conclusion that construction of the pipeline promotes the general good and is in the best interest of the state.”
The board said that a major factor in its decision on whether to reconsider was the memorandum of understanding that had been reached late last year between Vermont Gas and the Department of Public Service. Under that agreement, Vermont Gas said it would ask its customers for $134 million to cover the cost of the pipeline, even though company estimates put the total cost of construction at almost $154 million.
When the Public Service Board originally OK’d the pipeline the cost estimate was $86 million.
Vermont Gas officials were happy with the PSB’s decision.
“The Addison project will deliver a new clean energy choice to thousands of Vermont families, businesses and institutions,” the South Burlington company said in a press release. “Today’s decision concludes a thorough regulatory proceeding and we appreciate the opportunity to keep moving forward.
“Our company has worked through significant challenges to get the project on track. We appreciate the time and effort invested in this project by many potential customers, businesses, towns, and landowners along the route.
Vermont Gas hopes to complete the pipeline by the end of 2016.

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