Demonstrators gather to protest a natural gas pipeline through western Vermont in Montpelier, Vt., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Organizers said they are outraged over a deal the Vermont Department of Public Service signed with Vermont Gas Systems earlier t
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Demonstrators protesting a proposed natural gas pipeline through western Vermont erected a replica gas drill outside the state Department of Public Service on Saturday as they called for the project to be shut down.
Organizers said they are outraged over a deal the Vermont Department of Public Service signed with Vermont Gas Systems earlier this month to cap the cost of the project to ratepayers at $134 million. Earlier this year, Vermont Gas said the price tag for the Addison County Natural Gas Pipeline had gone from $86 million to nearly $154 million.
The state Public Service Board approved the first part of what was originally planned as a three-phase project in December 2013, but since then that first phase - extending gas service from Colchester to Middlebury - had seen nearly 80 percent growth in its projected cost.
The company has said it wants to deliver natural gas services to families and businesses in Addison and Rutland counties. The board is taking another look at the project because of the spiraling costs.
Protesters say the deal falsely claims to protect ratepayers while leaving them on the hook for over $134 million in pipeline construction costs. Some of the approximately 100 demonstrators who attended also said they are opposed to the use of fossil fuels.
Monkton resident Jane Palmer said she and her husband have resisted Vermont Gas’ desire to put a pipeline through their farm.
”After playing by their rules and getting nowhere I am not here to ask the PSB to do what they should have done three years ago,’ she said. ”If the people’s voices are ignored they will only get louder. I am here to demand they shut it down.’