The Ballooning costs of the Vermont Gas Pipeline

VT Gas Pipeline: Review Ballooning Costs and Halt Construction

Sandy Levine

CLF is asking Vermont regulators to examine the Vermont Gas pipeline project in light of its soaring costs. Construction should be halted unless and until regulators approve the changed project.

Soaring costs require reassessment. Recently Vermont Gas announced that the costs for its new gas pipeline will be 40% higher than they represented to regulators.

These higher costs come as no surprise to CLF or to Vermont Gas.

Vermont law requires regulators to review new utility projects. Regulators can only approve projects if they will “promote the general good of the state.”

Approvals are not blank checks. When costs soar, benefits decline.  Construction cannot move forward without review and approval of the changed project.

Vermont law has long required that when there is a substantial change to a project, an amended permit is needed. A 40% cost increase – especially when VT Gas knew or should have known of the higher costs – is a substantial change.

Vermont Gas failed to seek approval for the changed project. The Vermont Public Service Board should require VT Gas to halt construction and get the permit they need.

If VT Gas cannot justify their new soaring costs the project should be scrapped.

Vermont and the nation should be running – not walking – away from our reliance of dirty fossil fuels. As these ballooning costs show, new pipelines are high cost and high risk investments in old technology.

Vermont utilities should be up front about costs. The higher costs of the gas pipeline are not a surprise. Vermont Gas knew about the natural resource impacts, the additional analysis, engineering and landowner permission it would need. Instead of responsibly addressing these challenges early, it bulldozed its way through the permitting process.

Vermont Gas should get the permits it needs or not build its pipeline.

Read CLF’s Petition here.

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