• Support natural gas expansion
    September 11,2013

    Support natural gas expansion

    The proposed extension of natural gas service into Addison and Rutland counties by Vermont Gas is a great economic opportunity for the residents and businesses located in those counties.

    Homeowners can reduce heating costs by up to 50 percent with natural gas. These savings could increase the disposable income of a family. Thatís income that could then be spent at restaurants, grocery stores, on home improvements, new vehicles, etc.

    In addition to growing the local economy and savings on heating costs, Vermont Gas also offers energy efficiency opportunities for both residential and business customers. The energy efficiency program will assist in rebating a portion of the cost of purchasing efficient boilers and hot water tanks as well as offsetting the cost of making efficiency upgrades to homes.

    The project will also be a financial benefit to the state of Vermont and its citizens. As our stateís economy grows, the property tax base and general fund revenues will grow as well. It is the growth of the general fund that will allow our government the ability to invest in state programs to assist the underserved, maintain our state forest and parks system, expand law enforcement and protect our environment, just to name a few.

    Speaking of the environment, the burning of natural gas has been proven to reduce carbon dioxide significantly when compared with heating oil.

    Franklin County has been fortunate to have had safe access to natural gas for more than 40 years now. There has been no major accident with a Vermont Gas pipeline within Franklin County over that time. Natural gas, along with good planning and a strong workforce, has allowed our region to attract quality manufacturers and create great jobs over these 40 years.

    Job creation is one of the keys to attracting young families to the county as well as keeping local high school and college graduates in the area close to their families. Currently the countyís unemployment rate hovers around 4.5 percent, well below the national average of 7.4 percent. Forty years ago, Franklin County had an unemployment rate of 12 percent to 14 percent.

    Recently, Vermont Gas extended service into the village of Enosburg (another Franklin County community) and the news was welcomed with open arms. The village leaders recognized how significant the savings would be when heating the schools, village offices, their local opera house and emergency services facility. Vermont Gas is offering a heating alternative in Enosburg, just as it hopes to offer a choice to individuals and employers in Addison and Rutland counties.

    Choosing natural gas has many benefits including that itís cleaner burning than other heating alternatives, is cheaper, has less environmental impacts than other sources, and is safer.

    Please consider supporting the extension of Vermont Gas service to Addison and Rutland counties.

    Tim Smith

    St. Albans

    The writer is the executive director of Franklin County Industrial Development Corp.

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