Vermont Gas requests waiver from PSB to begin staging for pipeline construction

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Vermont Gas requests waiver from PSB to begin staging for pipeline construction

Wed, 06/11/2014 - 4:42pm -- tim

Vermont Gas Systems on Tuesday asked the Vermont Public Service Board to waive part of its Certificate of Public Good so it could begin receiving materials necessary to the construction of its Addison natural gas pipeline. VGS said it is about a month behind schedule because of a delay in receiving the necessary permit from the Agency of Natural Resources, which happened on Monday. The Army Corps of Engineers said it now will have to review the ANR permit before issuing its own, which could take until the end of June. VGS wanted to start the process May 1. VGS is asking for the PSB to act by Friday.

VGS' Certificate of Public Good, issued by the PSB on December 13, 2013, requires the South Burlington based company to obtain permits from the ANR, VTrans and the ACOE before beginning construction or site preparation for Phase I of the pipeline. VGS has yet to receive a permit from the ACOE and is seeking to begin site preparation before the permit is issued.

"Delaying deliveries to the Williston and New Haven staging areas until later this month will further impact the overall construction schedule and cost," wrote attorney Kimberly Hayden on behalf of VGS.

She went on to write: "VGS is authorized to represent to the Board that it has conferred with ANR, TRANS, ACOE, and the Department of Public Service, and all four agencies have no objection to this limited waiver request."

SEE TEXT OF REQUEST BELOW

The pipeline is intended to extend the natural gas line in Chittenden County to Addison and Rutland counties and eventually to the Ticonderoga paper plant in New York.

Opponents of the pipeline quickly jumped on the request and called on the PSB to reject what it called an attempt by Vermont Gas to circumvent the state-mandated pipeline permitting process.

“This is just one more example of Vermont Gas seeking an end-run around the public process,”  said Jane Palmer, a Monkton resident and intervenor in the Phase I process. “A Board order is a Board order -- In light of the fact that VGS has been treating homeowners so poorly the Board should reject this proposal. If the PSB lets Vermont Gas get away with this, what other restrictions will Vermont Gas attempt to whittle away?  What kind of protection will landowners have from the CPG if VGS can just ask for changes when they want them? This act makes us feel even more vulnerable than we were before...if that is possible.”

VGS has shown studies that residential and business customers in those counties will save significantly on energy bills if natural gas is piped into the region. Opponents say part of the gas comes from hydro fracturing (fracking), which they contend is environmentally unsafe and that landowners and abutters will suffer during and after the construction phase.

Dozens of pipeline opponents are expected to offer public testimony at the second PSB public hearing for Phase II of the gas pipeline. The hearing will be held at 7pm at Middlebury Union High School.

REQUEST:

STATE OF VERMONT
PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD
Petition of Vermont Gas Systems, Inc.,
requesting a Certificate of Public Good pursuant
to 30 V.S.A. § 248, authorizing the construction
of the "Addison Natural Gas Project"
consisting of approximately 43 miles of new
natural gas transmission pipeline in Chittenden
and Addison Counties, approximately 5 miles
of new distribution mainlines in Addison
County, together with three new gate stations in
Williston, New Haven and Middlebury,
Vermont

Docket No. 7970

Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. Motion for Limited Waiver Of CPG Condition No. 2

NOW COMES Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. ("Vermont Gas" or "VGS"), pursuant to
V.R.C.P. 60(b)(6), and respectfully asks the Public Service Board ("Board") to issue a limited waiver of Condition No. 2 of the Certificate of Public Good ("CPG") issued to VGS in this
proceeding.

I. Introduction

The Board issued an Order and CPG in this docket on December 23, 2013 authorizing
VGS, subject to certain conditions, to construct Phase 1 of the Addison Rutland Natural Gas
Project (the "Project"). CPG Condition No. 2, as corrected on December 26, 2013, provides:

2. Petitioner shall obtain all necessary permits from the Agency of Natural
Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Vermont Agency of
Transportation before commencement of construction or site preparation. This includes
the Vermont Stream Alteration Permit, Vermont Wetland Permit, Section 401 Water
Quality Certification, NPDES Stormwater Permit, and Army Corps of Engineers Section
404 Permit. Prior to proceeding with construction in any given area, Petitioner shall also
obtain all other necessary permits and approvals required for the proposed construction
activities in that area. Construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed Project
shall be in accordance with such permits and approvals, and with all other applicable
regulations, including those of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers.

VGS is in the process of mobilizing to commence construction, and as part of that
activity is preparing for deliveries of equipment and materials at the New Haven and Williston
materials staging areas/pipe yards.1 The Vermont Agency of Transportation (“VTRANS”)
issued a permit for construction within state rights-of-way on May 28, 2014, and VGS received
its collateral permits from the Agency of Natural Resources (“ANR”) yesterday, June 9, 2014.
VGS has not received its Army Corps of Engineers (“ACOE”) Project permits, and ACOE has
informed VGS that it will need time to review the ANR permits before it can issue the ACOE
Project permits. As such, VGS does not foresee obtaining the ACOE permits until later this
month.

The Williston and New Haven staging areas are non-jurisdictional under the ACOE
Project permits, as there are no ACOE jurisdictional resources that will be impacted at these
locations. VGS therefore respectfully asks that the Board partially waive Condition No. 2,
pursuant to V.R.C.P. 60(b)(6)2, so as to allow VGS to commence use of these Williston and New Haven staging areas upon receipt of the ANR permits, and notwithstanding that the ACOE
permits will be issued subsequent to the ANR permits. Delaying deliveries to the Williston and
New Haven staging areas until later this month will further impact the overall construction
schedule and cost. Project mobilization for these staging areas has already been delayed from
the original anticipated May 1, 2014 start date due to the delay in issuance of the permits.

VGS is authorized to represent to the Board that it has conferred with ANR, TRANS,
ACOE, and the Department of Public Service, and all four agencies have no objection to this limited waiver request.

VGS respectfully asks that the Board issue an order granting this limited waiver request as soon as possible and, if possible, by Friday, June 13, 2014.

Dated at Burlington, Vermont this 10th day of June, 014.

VERMONT GAS SYSTEMS, INC.

By: Kimberly K. Hayden, Esq.
Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC
199 Main Street, P.O. Box 190
Burlington, VT 05402-0190
Tel: (802) 863-2375

1 These two staging areas are identified on the Project Engineering Plans, Exh. Pet. Supp. JH-3 (6-28-13 at Sheets ANGP-T-G-022 and ANGP-T-G-023.
2 V.R.C.P. 60(b)(6) allows a tribunal to relieve a party from provisions of a final order upon a showing that there are circumstances justifying such relief. See V.R.C.P. 60(b)(6); Sandgate School District v. Cate, 2005 VT 88, 178 Vt. 625 (mem.)(subdivision 60(b)(6) is to be liberally construed so as to prevent injustice or hardship).