Next step for natural gas is up Wolfpit Road


A $290,000 contribution from the town may be required to extend natural gas lines up Wolfpit Road to the Miller-Driscoll School, First Selectman Bill Brennan announced Monday, April 6.
However, the contribution might be offset by savings within the Miller-Driscoll renovation project.
Turner Construction representatives estimate the town would avoid $200,000 worth of construction costs associated with the installation of oil tanks and burners if natural gas was expanded, though it remains unclear how expensive natural gas burners would be.
While the first selectman sees the project as a natural next step, Selectman Jim Saxe expressed hesitancy at the request — saying he wasn’t sure whether it was the town’s will to expand natural gas lines further. Three and a half miles of pipeline was laid last summer to bring natural gas through Wilton Center and up Route 7 to Middlebrook School, Comstock Community Center, Cider Mill School, and Wilton High School.
Mr. Brennan said even ignoring the $200,000 cost avoidance, a review by the Wilton Energy Commission said the town would see a “five-year positive cash flow” by switching from oil to natural gas.
A decision has to be made soon, Selectman Dick Dubow said, as the Miller-Driscoll architects “are up against a wall” and are currently designing the location and type of boilers to be put in.
“We have to have that answer for them,” Brennan said.

Expansion


Eversource, formerly known as Yankee Gas, has been interested in bringing natural gas up Wolfpit Road because of two properties: the Miller-Driscoll School and Villa Notre Dame, home of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
But after the sisters were not able to invest in the capital improvements necessary for natural gas, Eversource decided it could proceed with the plan only so long as the town could make a contribution.
“It’s a work in progress. Originally, we were talking with the Yankee Gas people all along with natural gas and they have been very interested in expanding, and the Sisters of Notre Dame were a big part of this activity. However, the sisters made the decision not to convert,” he said.
The company initially requested a $500,000 contribution from the town for the Wolfpit Road project, Brennan said, but that price was nearly halved through negotiations.
Now the total town contribution would be $325,000, with the possibility of that falling to $290,000 if the town Department of Public Works digs the trench for the pipeline.
No vote was taken on the contribution at the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday because Brennan is still waiting for new numbers from Eversource, which recently told the first selectman it would require a $150,000 up-front investment from the town before the project started.