Please support the Valley News during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the local economy — and many of the advertisers who support our work — to a near standstill. During this unprecedented challenge, we continue to make our coronavirus coverage free to everyone at www.vnews.com/coronavirus because we feel our most critical mission is to deliver vital information to our communities.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, we are asking for your support. Please consider subscribing or making a donation today. Learn more at the links below.

Thank you for your support of the Valley News.

Dan McClory, publisher


Regulators OK Lebanon Gas Project 

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/7/2018 12:26:13 AM
Modified: 3/7/2018 12:26:47 AM

Concord — Despite opposition from area officials and some environmentalists, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission this week awarded Liberty Utilities a franchise needed to construct a natural gas pipeline from Lebanon to Hanover.

In a 27-page decision issued on Monday, the commission said the company “possesses the financial, managerial, and technical expertise to successfully serve customers” in the two towns.

Liberty filed its request for a franchise in November 2016, and proposed to build a pipeline in two phases.

The company said it would start with a “turn-key supply operation” near the Lebanon landfill on Route 12A and eventually build out into downtown Hanover.

Liberty hoped to begin construction this year and estimated the project would cost $9.7 million in the first five years.

The project was opposed by environmental groups in the Upper Valley, as well as by officials in Hanover and Lebanon.

During proceedings in September, Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin argued the pipeline did not conform to the town’s renewable energy goals.

In May, Hanover residents voted to transition the community’s electricity to 100 percent renewable sources by 2030, with heat and transportation set to meet that goal by 2050.

Lebanon City Councilor Clifton Below, a former PUC commissioner, also argued the pipeline would not be in line with the city’s Master Plan, which promotes sustainable energy projects.

The PUC ruled that it couldn’t take those concerns into consideration.

“While we acknowledge Hanover’s, Lebanon’s, and the public commenters’ environmental and public policy objections for the use of gas, energy and environmental policy is the purview of the Legislature and none of the parties or commenters has demonstrated that any law or regulation would prohibit the expanded distribution of natural gas in the state,” the commission wrote.

The PUC’s ruling drew largely from a settlement signed by state regulators and Liberty in late August that called for the company to obtain a franchise but sought to protect utility ratepayers from the project’s financial risks.

In the settlement, Liberty consented to hold off on construction of a pipeline until it first obtained enough customers to pay off half of the project’s cost over the first 10 years.

The PUC ruling requires additional information from Liberty and attempts to strengthen the settlement to protect ratepayers.

Under state law, the franchise will expire in two years.

If construction is not completed in 2020, Liberty must petition the commission to continue its franchise.

The utility also must obtain approvals from the Lebanon Zoning and Planning boards to move ahead with the project.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2019 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy