First selectman’s remarks on Yankee Gas project

In a meeting at Yankee Gas headquarters on Feb. 14, Town officials were advised that recent Yankee Gas reviews of the Wilton gas line investment project revealed that previous cost assumptions were no longer applicable. Yankee Gas managers indicated that in order for the project to proceed, the Town may be required to absorb some additional costs to meet the regulated investment criteria! In response, Yankee Gas was told that the Town of Wilton will meet the commitments outlined in a Yankee Gas proposed term sheet dated June 6, 2011 and that the utility needed to revisit their financial model to resolve their internal cost issues to enable the project to go forward as planned!

In addition, Town officials were advised that Yankee Gas cannot install conduit simultaneously with the installation of the gas line, as a separate trench would be required to meet utility separation requirements. They stated additional costs for a second trench from Center Street and Route 33 to Wilton’s school facilities and Comstock Community Center would substantially exceed the project costs in their financial investment model that must meet State of Connecticut regulatory requirements. It was disappointing to learn that the tightly regulated investment process does not allow the cooperation from Yankee Gas that was anticipated.

Consequently, in view of this information, there is no need for a Special Town Meeting on March 12th to obtain voter approval for funds to install conduits and other town-wide network project costs. Therefore, I recommend that the board cancel this meeting.

Town officials have immediately started a review of alternative network plans to connect Town facilities. All options and relevant costs will be examined and a recommendation presented to the Board of Selectmen, including the most cost-effective way to fund this project.

Both Yankee Gas and the Town have invested a substantial amount of effort in the Wilton gas line expansion project.  Yankee Gas has completed all required engineering for two bridge crossings; all surveys for easement grants; permit applications and construction planning along with Wilton customer marketing efforts, but there is more work to be done.

Next steps — Town officials will meet again with Yankee Gas on Feb. 28 to review the entire project.