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January 27, 2012 | last updated January 27, 2012 11:19 am

Gardiner OKs tax deal for natural gas pipeline

The city of Gardiner has given final approval to a tax break for Kennebec Valley Gas Co. for its proposed 56-mile pipeline, as long as the company builds a distribution line to the city's business park.

City councilors Wednesday approved tax increment financing districts in areas of the city where the pipeline would be built, on the condition that Kennebec Valley Gas service the Libby Hill business park, according to the Kennebec Journal. The move is part of the city's efforts to attract more tenants to the park, which currently has five tenants and 12 available lots. The city's business park fund currently has a more than $400,000 deficit that is expected to grow to nearly $700,000 by June 30 if another lot is not sold.

Mark Isaacson, a principal of the Portland-based gas company, said the company would build the distribution line to the park and the downtown area, and could possibly extend it to the city's junior and high schools and other properties along U.S. Route 201 if there are enough customers willing to switch to natural gas.

If approved, the pipeline would run through 12 central Maine communities. The Maine Public Utilities Commission has given the plan initial approval, but Kennebec Valley Gas needs TIFs from all communities to make the project economically feasible. So far, the company has secured agreements in Augusta, Fairfield and Oakland, while Hallowell and Waterville have given preliminary support. Madison, Richmond and Farmingdale have voted against TIFs.

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