TICONDEROGA — Ticonderoga Town Supervisor William Grinnell wants Vermont public officials to support the natural-gas pipeline proposed from the Green Mountain State to International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill.
The Vermont Gas Systems pipeline would be a spur off a planned pipeline from Middlebury to Rutland, Vt., and many Vermont citizens and local governments oppose it because it would help a business in another state.
That was the reason cited by the Energy Committee of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission when it voted 4-1 against supporting the pipeline for IP earlier this year.
The Planning Commission’s regional plan contains a clause that states out-of-region or out-of-state energy projects will not be endorsed by the commission.
Grinnell says that goes against Vermont Statute 24 Section 4335a, which says the commission’s role is to support the “greater region.”
He sent a letter to Addison County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Adam Lougee in an attempt to start a bi-state dialogue about the pipeline.
“I would urge you to extend to me … the opportunity to have a voice in your ongoing discussions about the merits of the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project,” Grinnell wrote.
“The Ticonderoga mill is a significant economic driver for our entire region.”
APRIL 9 VOTE
Lougee then invited Grinnell to the Planning Commission meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, when the commission is scheduled to vote on whether to support Phase 2.
“I thought Mr. Grinnell wrote a strong letter that emphasized the benefits of the proposed pipeline project for both Addison County, Vermont, and Ticonderoga, New York,” Lougee told the Press-Republican Tuesday.
“I responded to his letter by inviting him to our public meeting ... when I expect the commission will deliberate on this issue.”
Grinnell wanted the Planning Commission to postpone the vote, but that may not happen.
“It’s time for us to vote,” Lougee said.
Grinnell said he will attend the Planning Commission meeting and ask to address the commission on the issue.
‘NOT AN ISLAND’
International Paper spokeswoman Donna Wadsworth said they appreciate Grinnell’s efforts.
“Bill is petitioning to have a voice.”
Vermont Gas spokesman Steve Wark said they also agree with Grinnell’s request to contribute to the process.
“It only makes sense that our neighbors in New York should participate in the regional planning process. Vermont is not an island. It’s important we work with our neighboring communities and states.”
On Monday, Grinnell got the Essex County Board of Supervisors Ways and Means Committee to pass a resolution in support of Phase 2 of the pipeline project. The county will take a final vote next Monday at its regular monthly meeting.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s a necessary thing to do.”
Grinnell also asked all 18 towns in Essex County to pass resolutions supporting the IP spur. The Ticonderoga Town Council passed one after Monday’s county meeting.
IP will pay $62 million of the $64.4 million cost of the pipeline branch to the mill, so it can burn less expensive natural gas, instead of fuel oil, in its power boiler and lime kiln. Savings are estimated at more than $2 million a year.
IP will also pay $45 million toward the Middlebury to Rutland, Vt. extension cost of $70 million.
Besides the savings on fuel, the switch would also greatly reduce the plant’s carbon emissions, Wadsworth said.
PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD
The Planning Commission supported Phase 1 of the pipeline and executed a memorandum of understanding with Vermont Gas to supply equipment for first responders who might be called to incidents involving the line.
Vermont Gas got permission late last year from the Vermont Public Service Board to extend the gas pipeline to Vergennes and Middlebury and Phase 2 would go from Middlebury to Rutland, with the branch line for International Paper.
Vermont Gas has asked the Public Service Board for approval of the Phase 2 section, and the board will hold hearings later this year.
The Regional Planning Commission’s determination will not be binding but could have weight with the Public Service Board when it starts deliberations.
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Public meetings on the proposed Vermont Gas Pipeline to International Paper's Ticonderoga mill:
Addison County Regional Planning Commission: Meeting on Phase 2 is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, Commission Offices, Middlebury, Vt. Vermont
Public Service Board: Public hearing on Phase 2 is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, at Middlebury Union Middle School in Middlebury, Vt.