Natural gas pipeline pullout bad news for Vermont economy

A gas pipeline in Columbia [PHOTO: Nuttall Legal]
VERNON, Vt. — The suspension of the $3.3 billion Kinder Morgan pipeline through southern New England may have substantial economic implications for Vermont and the region.

Kinder Morgan on Monday backed out of its proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, formally withdrawing a federal application to transport low-cost natural gas from Pennsylvania to New England. A company statement said the project had “inadequate capacity commitments from prospective costumers.”

The development comes as bad news for the town of Vernon, Vermont, which had been pursuing a 700-megawatt natural gas plant. The plant would have produced more power than the now-defunct Vermont Yankee, a 620-megawatt nuclear power plant.

“Obviously we want to see the town succeed, and the non-binding vote was very decisive among people who wanted to see further discussions. … We were dependent upon Kinder Morgan running that pipeline,” said Tim Arsenault, Vernon’s town clerk.

State Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, said the suspension is a lost opportunity for economic development and low-cost energy in Vermont.

“Certainly if a plant like that had come to Vernon it would have helped in terms of its tax revenue, and it would have helped Vermont ratepayers as a source of electricity.”

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