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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Local Gaz news 2014 in review from a friend...

Thanks, to fellow gaz pipeline opponent, Mary, for providing this update...

The Addison Rutland Natural Gas Pipeline Project continued to make waves in January. Some Monkton property owners affected by the pipeline route appealed the Vermont Public Service Board’s decision to green-light Phase I of the project, calling for conduit to be laid from Colchester to Middlebury and Vergennes

Some Monkton residents in February voiced outrage upon receiving letters from Vermont Gas informing them that eminent domain proceedings would be initiated against them if they could not negotiate property easements for the natural gas pipeline extending from Colchester to Middlebury. Some landowners said they considered the letter tantamount to an intimidation tactic.

Town meeting also provided a forum for citizens in the communities of Monkton, Cornwall and Shoreham to voice their disapproval of the proposed Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project pipeline. But during a legislative luncheon held later in the month in Middlebury, Gov. Peter Shumlin reiterated his support for the project, stating his belief that it would deliver sorely needed economic development opportunities to Addison County and eventually Rutland County. A vast majority of those who attended the luncheon criticized the pipeline plan and the governor’s support of it.

The Addison County Regional Planning Commission board voted, 15-11, that the proposed Vermont Natural Gas pipeline to International Paper in Ticonderoga, N.Y., conformed with the county plan despite protests from Cornwall and Shoreham residents and town officials. Some board members were also criticized for voting for the pipeline against the wishes of their towns.

About 200 people crowded into the Shoreham Elementary School gym for a May 7 Public Service Board hearing on the proposed Vermont Natural Gas pipeline through Cornwall and Shoreham and on to the International Paper plant in Ticonderoga, N.Y. Almost all of the five dozen people who spoke panned the plan.

The proposed Vermont Gas pipelines through Addison County continued to stir debate in June, when Monkton landowners told the Public Service Board in Montpelier the company’s bargaining tactics during land purchase discussions were flawed and negotiations had ground to a halt.

Irate over the cost hike for the Vermont Gas pipeline, opponents of the project on July 21 asked the Public Service Board to reexamine its approval of the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project. The board did take the case back from the Supreme Court, but ultimately decided to not alter its findings.

Vermont Gas on Aug. 12 offered to pay for independent mediators to help landowners along the Phase I pipeline route come to terms with the company. Some residents balked at the offer and said they don’t trust Vermont Gas, while others said they’d give it a try. Legislators, including Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, said the offer doesn’t address a key imbalance — that Vermont Gas’ legal expenses are billed back to the project, while landowners must dig into their own pockets.

On Sept. 21, dozens of Addison County residents joined Ripton environmentalist Bill McKibben and, the climate action group he founded with Middlebury College students, at the People’s Climate March in Manhattan. More than 300,000 people from around the world turned up for what turned out to be the largest climate change rally in history.


On Oct. 10, the Public Service Board decided not to reopen the Certificate of Public Good it issued for Phase I of the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project, allowing construction of the pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury and Vergennes to continue. The state utilities regulator also detailed an increased burden of 40 percent on Vermont Gas Systems ratepayers, who will ultimately pay for the burden of the project. (This story will see new developments later in the year.)
The ruling came after the federal agency responsible for regulating interstate energy projects granted a waiver that gave New York and Vermont, the two states through which Phase II of Vermont Gas Systems’ Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project would run, authority to approve or reject the plan. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a ruling that Phase II (a pipeline extension from Middlebury to Ticonderoga, N.Y.) complies with the Natural Gas Act, which prohibits the construction of a natural gas pipeline in an area already served by natural gas.
November - nothing
Vermont Gas Systems said it would hold off on beginning eminent domain proceedings against landowners along its Phase I pipeline, known as the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Pipeline. The announcement came at the request of Gov. Peter Shumlin and was made in the form of a letter from his chief of staff, Liz Miller, to a Vermont Gas vice president. The governor’s request stemmed from a Nov. 13 meeting he held with a group of landowners from Chittenden and Addison counties.
As of Dec. 1, the Public Service Board has issued Certificates of Public Good (CPGs) to 138 solar projects across the state, ranging from small rooftop units to multi-acre solar arrays. Twenty-six projects are located in Addison County. New Haven saw the most projects given CPGs with six, followed by three each in Middlebury, Monkton and Orwell. Two projects got the green light in Waltham and one each was approved in Addison, Vergennes, Bristol, Bridport, Ferrisburgh, Whiting, Ripton, Salisbury and Shoreham. The figures don’t include residential-size projects of less than 15 kilowatts, which do not need a CPG. The state received 917 applications for net metering projects through October, on pace to break last year’s total of 1,027 applications.

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