Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New natural gas pipeline proposed for central Maine seeks tax breaks

PORTLAND, Me. - A new Portland-based energy company is seeking tax breaks from 12 communities in central Maine for a proposed 56-mile natural gas pipeline.

Kennebec Valley Gas Co. recently pitched its $70 million line from Richmond to Madison to local officials at a meeting organized by the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, according to the Kennebec Journal.

Kennebec Valley Gas is seeking tax breaks from 12 central Maine communities and is trying to secure anchor customers to move forward with the project, which it hopes to complete in 2013.

The company is the newest venture of Mark Isaacson and Richard Silkman, founders of Competitive Energy Services and GridSolar. They are hoping to negotiate tax-increment financing arrangements with 12 municipalities that would host the pipeline and are currently working to attract large customers interested in using natural gas, according to the paper.

Isaacson said the project would provide another energy option to a large portion of the state. Currently, three companies provide natural gas in greater Portland, Lewiston-Auburn, greater Bangor, the Brunswick area and Kittery.

Isaacson said he and Silkman formed Kennebec Valley Gas Company in 2010 because they saw a need for another energy option in the region.

"It's the largest population and industrial center in Maine that doesn't have natural gas," he said.

When the Maine portion of the Maritimes and Northeast natural gas pipeline was built in the late 1990s, there was a plan to construct a spur that would run east of the Kennebec River, but that never happened.

The plan for the new pipeline is to connect to the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline at a compressor station in Richmond and run parallel to the river on the west side. It would be built in the road right of way in "comparatively rural areas," Young said, and smaller pipelines would distribute the gas to customers from as many as nine different points.

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