Letter to the editor: Natural gas key issue in Bristol

In the Addison Independent article, Ian Albinson candidate for Bristol selectboard stated that he was “Neither for nor against it,” in reference to the natural gas pipeline for Bristol. In a recent Front Page Forum post (#3138 2/15/19), it becomes clear that he is opposed to it.
The intent of the selectboard, by signing the license agreement, was to enable residents to make the choice to connect or not. The opposition is intent on denying Bristol residents the choice of an alternative fuel source, another option for a weatherization program, an option for a renewable energy source, as well as proven reduction in greenhouse gasses over fuel oil.
There are many people, even with the oppositions move to perpetual litigation that think natural gas is coming. But it isn’t as things stand right now. Vermont Gas has suspended permitting pending litigation.
Not to make light of other town issues, but they fade in importance to the natural gas project. That is why I am supporting Ted Lylis in his re-election bid for selectboard. He has demonstrated support by action for the project by making the motion to sign the license agreement with Vermont Gas.
Voter participation last town meeting was about 38 percent. Even though it’s the only contested race on the ballot, it is important for the entire town to take time on Town Meeting Day to vote. Especially for those who believe they and their neighbors should have the choice to connect instead of having the choice made for them by a few. For wider town individuals with land, think of it as limitation of property rights.
Specific comments to Ian’s FPF post are:
•  He states, “The pipeline issue is a complicated one.” But lines have been put in Middlebury and Vergennes, with more complex traffic patterns and utilities in their ROWs than Bristol with ease.
•  He states that the installation would only be “serving roughly half the population of Bristol.” This infers that projects benefiting only part of the townspeople do not need to be taken seriously.
•  He states, “A change in fuel type doesn’t necessarily equal savings in the long term.” Our heating costs would be cut by 38 percent annually by switching. The opposition in their mantra of invoking fear and doubt are intent that people believe natural gas will become more expensive once connected, which historically and projected are not the case.
•  He says that “an even greater immediate benefit to a home or business can be weatherization and energy efficiency measures” but ignores the fact that Vermont Gas has a weatherization program to provide residents with another option for this expensive undertaking. For typical older Bristol homes, it’s a program with incentives frequently superior to Efficiency Vermont, that coupled with fuel savings would make this expensive endeavor more palatable.
•  He states, “My main concern with such a large infrastructure project has always been the selectboard’s engagement with their own commissions and committees.” Based on the adversarial anti-natural gas stance of individuals on the Energy Committee in particular, there is little benefit to consult with a group that has the desire to derail the project. In a sense they did meet with the Energy Committee as a significant number of the current and former Energy Committee members were the same people sitting at selectboard meetings expressing opposition to the project. The selectboard deliberately took 5 months to hear out the opposition last year. The opposition only offered endless “Gasland” rhetoric and nothing constructive. Meanwhile informal conversations the selectboard had around town indicated wide appeal for the gas line.
•  He states, “The water infrastructure upgrade last year on West Street was disruptive and problematic due to a number of issues.” The opposition refers to the water and stormwater improvement project on West Street as the type of mess the streets would be in with the installation of natural gas. The project on West Street required open trench excavations to set stormwater drainage. Natural Gas would be installed with underground directional boring as in Middlebury and Vergennes over the last several years. This is a blatant exaggeration alluding that the installation will be disruptive and just another example of the fear and doubt being spread by the opposition.
•  He states that Main Street business owners aren’t interested in connecting. The six eateries/kitchens and laundromat, all heavy energy users using propane will benefit significantly from conversion. Conversion to natural gas would provide real cost savings in a tight market where people drive by downtown to the box stores. The opportunity to convert will do the more to maintain downtown viability than any program or insight Ian can provide on the board.
•  He talks about the renewably powered buildings at Bristol Works!, but there is a propane service to each one of those buildings.
The most significant issue for the town is the natural gas project and needs to be made the issue at this time. The opposition continues to make irrational accusations about the project and the town is being hamstrung by a small group. With unsuccessful attempts to de-rail the project through committee review, hearings, and “votes,” they continue their opposition through litigation. The town does not need a selectperson sympathetic to their position on the board.
Kevin Hanson

Share this story:

More News
Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Op/Ed Uncategorized

Hector Vila: The boundaries of education

There is a wide boundary between the teacher and the student, found most profoundly in col … (read more)

Naylor & Breen Uncategorized

Naylor & Breen Request for Proposals

Naylor and Breen 042524 2×4.5 OCCC RFP

Share this story: