Vermont Gas announced recently that its 41-mile natural gas pipeline extension will cost 7.8% more than the most recent projections, marking the latest in a series of cost overruns for the project, whose costs are borne largely by ratepayers, according to an article by Vermont Digger.
“It’s the fourth time Vermont Gas has upped the price tag,” the article stated. The cost is now pegged at $165 million, up from the original estimate of $87 million. About 50,000 ratepayers in Chittenden and Franklin counties are subsidizing the pipeline, which will serve about 3,000 customers in Addison County.
Vermont Digger quoted Don Rendall, the CEO of Vermont Gas, as saying that contractors for the company have had to blast more rock and ledge in the right of way corridor than anticipated. He said it has also been more expensive than anticipated to drill around environmentally sensitive areas.
AARP-Vermont, a longtime critic of the project, said the memorandum of understanding between Vermont Gas and state regulators doesn’t go far enough to protect ratepayers. “Their agreement with the Department of Public Service left loopholes you could drive a truck through,” said David Reville, communications director of the senior citizen group. He said Vermont Gas can pass along “unavoidable delays” associated with land acquisition and protests. “We don’t feel ratepayers should bear those costs.”
Vermont Digger reports that Reville questions why the company couldn’t better manage costs. “The department needs to do its job and closely scrutinize the effort,” Reville said.
To read more about this story and for a link to the original Vermont Digger Article, visit American Energy Coalition.org.
Editor’s Note: Vermont Fuel Dealers Association has been heavily involved in this issue.