May 6, 2014

In My Opinion: Project benefits economy, environment

No doubt about it, Vermonters are passionate about the Green Mountain state. That’s a healthy sign of an engaged citizenry.

One project, the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project, has been vigorously debated. Unfortunately, sometimes the facts can get lost.

In Vermont, there is no project — proposed or underway — with the combined economic and environmental benefits of the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project.

The first of three phases has earned a Certificate of Public Good from state regulators; regulators are reviewing the second; and the third is in the planning stages to expand services to Rutland.

With this progress, now is the perfect time to review the facts showing how customers, communities and our state will benefit from the long-term savings and other advantages of the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project.

Natural gas is safer, cleaner — and about half the cost — compared with the propane or oil currently used by most Vermonters. Homeowners stand to save up to $2,000 a year, and employers millions that can be reinvested.

Cutting energy bills by about 50 percent will encourage job retention and creation, generating as much as three-quarters of a billion dollars in energy savings over the next several decades.

Economic-development experts in Rutland County continue to cite the need for natural-gas service to attract and retain employers — a competitive advantage Chittenden County has enjoyed for nearly 50 years.

The Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project will shrink municipal heating budgets, while property taxes from the project will help fund programs at public schools and other local services.

Providing natural-gas service to Cornwall and Shoreham will save residents in those communities alone about $2 million over 20 years while meaningfully reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

When homeowners and businesses in Addison and Rutland counties convert to more affordable natural gas, they will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and help improve regional air quality. In fact, when a home or business converts from oil, it can reduce its emissions by about 25 percent.

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