When the person you hire to build your new house bungles the project, you don’t expect to pay for all those mistakes.
The same applies for massive utility projects. The bungled Vermont Gas Pipeline has a sad history of cost overruns, safety lapses, mistakes and mismanagement.
Just a few of the problems include:
- Faulty analysis of greenhouse gas emissions
- Late reports on project costs with a $100,000 fine
- Doubling of project costs
- Destroying rare sunflowers during construction
- Safety violation with a $95,000 fine
- Firing and lawsuits over poor contract management
Vermont regulators will now decide who pays for these mistakes. Customers (you and me)? Or investors?
As a regulated utility, Vermont Gas Systems is allowed to charge customers for all reasonably prudent costs. And for all equipment that is used by customers. During foue days of hearings last week, regulators heard testimony about how the pipeline project has been mismanaged from the start. You can see the transcripts here: 12/8/16 – 12/9/16 – 12/12/16.
This was the biggest project ever undertaken by this small utility. Vermont Gas Systems was clearly in way over its head and struggled just to tread water.
Sadly the result is a bad project that gets worse by the day.
When smart investors are running from a fossil fuel future, regulators should not yoke innocent Vermonters to this outdated, polluting and expensive pipeline.
The pipeline was a bad deal from the beginning and regulators should reject rate hikes for customers to pay for this bad mistake.