Vermont Gas has proposed expanding its natural gas pipeline to bring more affordable, cleaner energy to more Vermonters and significantly increase Vermont's ability to build and sustain vibrant economies in Addison and Rutland counties. But does this meet our goal of saving money and strengthening the environment? In a word - yes.
We know natural gas has less sulfur than the oil we burn and now a new independent study, the first full "apples to apples" study to compare fuel oil and natural gas shows us that natural gas has 23 percent lower emissions. The study evaluates both fuels for Vermont, taking into account both methane and CO2 on a life-cycle basis, and natural gas is the clear winner.
Are these results surprising? No. The results are consistent with other information from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Information Administration and other studies showing natural gas' favorable emissions. This is one of the reasons why natural gas is a key component of Vermont's long-term Energy Plan and of President Obama's new Climate Action Plan. The president's plan in particular illustrates the vital role natural gas plays in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while transitioning to a more responsible and sustainable energy future.
Additionally, Vermont home owners and renters can save up to $2,000 per year compared to heating with fuel oil, and eligible low-income customers can save another 20 percent. Vermont employers also can save energy and money, allowing them to create more jobs and reinvest in their employees, businesses and communities.
Residents and businesses all save with Vermont Gas' award-winning energy-efficiency programs that further reduce emissions and save millions of dollars more annually.
These local economic benefits, coupled with the significant environmental advantages, are why natural gas plays an important role in state and federal energy policy, and in a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable environmental future.
Vermonters make decisions based on facts. The Addison Natural Gas Project clearly lowers greenhouse gas emissions while expanding access to a more affordable fuel source. There is no other project - proposed or underway - anywhere in Vermont that has the economic and environmental benefits of the Addison Natural Gas Project. Vermonters deserve the choice to convert to clean, safe and more affordable natural gas. To learn more about the project, please visit www.AddisonNaturalGas.com.
Eileen Simollardes is a vice president of Vermont Gas and the director of the Addison Natural Gas Project.