Vt. Gas to pay penalty for pipeline construction mismanagement

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) State regulators have reaffirmed an order that Vermont Gas pay a $23.7 million penalty related to mismanagement that led to cost overruns in the Addison County pipeline project.

The Public Utility Commission on Monday reaffirmed the penalty after the Vermont Supreme Court in April ordered the commission to reinvestigate cost overruns and to make clear ratepayers were protected against the cost overruns that nearly doubled the price tag of the $165 million project.

The AARP had argued before the court that Vermont Gas should be on the hook for all the cost overruns above the initial $87 million price tag, not ratepayers. But the commission says AARP offered no specific evidence estimating the cost of the company's mismanagement.

AARP officials this week told VTDigger they were dismayed by the PUC's decision and that Vermont Gas should bear all of the cost.

Vermont Gas Systems officials said in a statement that the company appreciates the "thorough review from the Supreme Court and the Public Utility Commission."