FARMINGTON — A proposal to bring a natural gas pipeline to town was discussed by selectmen Tuesday.
Town Manager Richard Davis told the board about a "very preliminary meeting" held last week to discuss extending a pipeline from Jay via the old railroad bed known as the Whistle Stop Trail and now used for recreational purposes.
Davis told the board he and state Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, gathered representatives from some potentially large gas consumers such as the university, the hospital and local landlords to meet with Kenneth Fletcher, director of the Governor's Office of Energy Independence and Security.
There appeared to be a lot of excitement and interest in the idea, Davis said. Participants thought there could be enough interest in natural gas to entice providers to come to the area. They thought there could be enough customers to consume a volume of gas that would make the idea potentially feasible, he said.
The idea is to connect a line with an established pipeline developed for Verso Paper's mill then follow the trail through Wilton into Farmington.
"It seems like a natural fit," Davis said.
Use of the trail could reduce the cost of installation.
Although laying the line is an expensive venture, there's no need for tax dollars, he said. The town's role is to help coordinate bringing the gas to the area and perhaps helping with the bid process.
Installation costs would be paid by the gas provider whose prices are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, he said.
The next step is to gain approval from the State Department of Conservation for use of the recreation trail for the pipeline, Davis said.
It wouldn't affect the use of the trail once the pipelines are buried, he added.
A natural gas pipeline to paper mills in Jay and Rumford was installed by the Portland Natural Gas Transmission System and started providing natural gas to the mills in 1998.
The main pipeline connects to TransCanada pipelines, bringing gas to sites in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts.