Vermont Gov. Howard Dean last week voiced strong opposition to a$100 million gas pipeline project and two power plants proposed inhis state. The governor’s position, local opposition and financingtroubles for the power plants have left project planners EnergyEast, Iroquois Gas Pipeline and Vermont Energy Park Holdings withvery few options.

The 63-mile pipeline lateral off of the Iroquois mainline, whichwas announced in September 1998, was being designed to serve the1,080 MW gas-fired power plant in Rutland and the 270 MW plant inBennington as well as industrial and commercial loads in the towns.However, Vermont Energy Park Holdings has been unable to obtainpower plant financing.

“We put the pipeline on hold last year,” said George Bonner,vice president of gas operations and marketing for Energy Eastsubsidiary New York State Electric and Gas. “We had an applicationready to go the Vermont Public Service Commission but without thebase load of the power plants we weren’t going to file it. In themeantime, there has been a lot of opposition both to the powerplants and the pipeline between Bennington and Rutland. Whether ornot the opposition would have been enough for the regulatory agencynot to grant a certificate I don’t know, but we never got a chanceto test it because we put it on hold.

“Now the governor is saying the project is dead as far as he isconcerned and the state will not allow us to use the route 7corridor between Bennington and Rutland. So we’re sitting herelooking at — if the power plants were to come up with financing— a potential alternate route. If they do not go forward, we arestudying whether or not we still want to put service into Rutlandand Bennington and how to do it. We have to regroup.”

Bonner said the companies might consider going ahead with gasdistribution plans in the two towns without the power plants. Butit would be less economically attractive and would take severalmore months to regroup and probably up to a year to complete a newplan.

He said unlike most other new pipelines this one did notencounter the problem of going through heavily populated areasbecause there are no heavily populated areas in the state. Rather,the opponents were fighting the project and power plants becausethey would disturb the pristine landscape.

The governor’s opposition “could be” too big of a politicalhurdle for the project to proceed. “If the power plants gotfinancing we would have to go talk to the governor and see what wecould come up with in terms of other routes or something to get hisapproval.”

Rocco Canonica

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