TICONDEROGA — Preliminary work is under way in Vermont on extending a natural-gas pipeline to serve International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill.
Vermont Gas Systems, owner of the natural-gas pipeline being extended from the South Burlington area to provide service to Vergennes and Middlebury, Vt., also plans to bore under Lake Champlain to the mill.
At their end, International Paper engineers are planning an $8 million to $10 million conversion of the mill’s power and recovery boilers to fire from natural gas. The boilers now use No. 6 fuel oil.
“The pipeline is essential to IP’s continued operation,” Mill Manager Chris Mallon said.
Natural gas would be about 43 percent cheaper than the fuel oil the mill burns now, he said.
IP’s 10.5-mile-long section of the pipeline is expected to be completed in 2015.
Mill Manager of Communications Donna Wadsworth said the project will be helpful to the Ticonderoga site.
“We’re excited about the project. For us, it is coming along fast.”
She said natural-gas use would reduce the mill’s greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 20 percent.
Vermont Gas has been holding public meetings in Vermont on the $72 million project.
The construction will affect several property owners in Cornwall and Shoreham, Vt., as the pipeline passes through those towns and under the lake bed.
In response to public criticism of its previous proposed route, Vermont Gas is now planning to run the 10-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipe along the existing Vermont Electric Power Co. utilities corridor. That stretches from Rutland to South Burlington and has buffers to protect residential areas.
Vermont Gas, based in South Burlington, says the line would travel from that city near Route 116, then over to Vergennes on one spur and down to Middlebury on another.
The pipeline isn’t being extended from Chittenden County solely for IP; it would also benefit some communities along the route by providing them with natural-gas service.