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Pipeline Approved: What's Next?

The PSB approved phase one of the Addison County pipeline, but what comes next?
MONKTON, Vt. - After a year of feisty debate the Public Service Board approved Vermont Gas' plan to expand a natural gas pipeline into Addison County.

Steve Wark of Vermont Gas says, “obviously we're very pleased with this decision. we think its a win for Vermonters."

Even with a green light from the PSB, Vermont Gas still needs a few permits before construction starts in 2014. Since the permits aren't in hand yet, an exact start date isn't yet known. It's the big businesses that will be connected first.

"Our goal is in 2014 to be able to service Cabot, and Middlebury College, and Porter Hospital, also we would really like to help the schools in Vergennes," Wark said.

Wark says Vergennes High School alone can save 60-thousand dollars a year by switching to natural gas. Most homeowners hoping to save with natural gas will likely have to wait until 2015 or 2016 to be hooked up.

“We work to connect the anchor tenants first because the reality is they pay a substantial amount of the infrastructure based on their usage," Wark says.

Despite the Public Service Board's assertion that this project is good for Vermont, some land owners impacted by the pipeline still disagree, and fear its not the right move for the energy future of the state.

Nate Palmer lives in Monkton.

"We ban fracking gas in Vermont, but we're going to accept the benefits from someplace else? That's so hypocritical. This is totally the wrong way to morally go. We should not be building out fossil fuels when we know we need to be off fossil fuels in twenty years," he said.

Vermont Gas disagrees.

“I don't think its Vermont's place to tell Alberta or Pennsylvania or any other state how they should run their environment," Wark said.

Keep in mind this is just phase one of the pipeline expansion. Plans for phase two, which would expand the pipeline to Ticonderoga, have been submitted to the PSB. Phase three would extend the pipeline to Rutland. Vermont Gas says all three phases will require new employees, and new office space- an economic boost to the region.
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