MIDDLEBURY — After years of planning, permitting and protests, Vermont Gas has announced that they have completed the final 41-mile Addison Natural Gas Project and is starting to serve customers in Middlebury. Other Addison County towns will be added when the rest of their planned distribution lines are completed, a process expected to take a couple of years.
Don Rendall, President and CEO of Vermont Gas announced that as of April 12th four homes were connected, and they will be expanding service to more homes and businesses in Middlebury. They hope to have hundreds of customers connected by next fall. The next towns to be offered service from the pipeline will be Vergennes, New Haven and Bristol. Vermont Gas plans to offer natural gas to about 4,000 customers in Addison Country, including Woodchuck Cider and Agrimark’s Cabot cheese plant.
“This is great news for the thousands of families and businesses who have waited patiently for the choice and opportunity of affordable natural gas service. We are so pleased to offer service to our new customers,” said Rendall. “This has been an incredibly challenging project. We are very thankful to the communities and landowners who have supported us along the way and look forward to helping even more Vermonters save money and reduce their energy needs through our nationally recognized efficiency programs.”
The process has taken more than 7 years, with Vermont Gas overcoming roadblocks all along the way. Their initial cost estimates proved to be about half of what was needed to complete the project. Many landowners were reluctant to give permission to run the line through their property, and protests abounded, most notably at Geprags Park in Hinesburg. Protesters were adamantly opposed to Vermont Gas obtaining a right-of-way through the wetlands of the park. The right-of-way issue is currently before the Vermont Supreme Court, although the laying of pipeline through Geprags is complete. A decision from the court is pending, and company officials say they will respond after the ruling has been handed down.
Vermont Gas teams are out in the communities talking with homeowners and businesses about converting to natural gas. They say the process is easy and affordable, and they will provide customers access to the company’s energy efficiency program, offering incentives and rebates on equipment and upgrades to help lower energy costs.