DAYTON — Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board Chairman Mayor Peter Clark said he is really impressed by the Tongue River Valley’s response to the request for letters of commitment from residents and businesses to hook up to a proposed natural gas pipeline.
As of Thursday, Clark said his last count was 211 residential letters and 42 commercial. The U.S. Department of Agriculture requested 80 residential and 30 commercial, so the project is well within the guidelines of what the USDA wanted. Clark said there are still letters coming in, which will be added to the count.
The commercial count is tricky he said, because currently the TRVJPB cannot include those that are outside the town limits. Those letters were set aside and include more than 10 businesses that would be significant contributors to the system, such as the school bus barn and the Padlock Ranch.
The statute pertaining to joint powers boards offering utilities outside of town limits requires clarification and stronger language pertaining to the school district being a municipality.
Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, is working with the Wyoming Legislature to pass a bill to allow those outside of town to be included.
Clark’s USDA contact Chad Roup, who is located in Casper, told Clark the application process would take three to six weeks to complete. The TRVJPB should hear results sometime in the summer, he told Clark.
The State Loan and Investment Board grant award will be announced June 15. Some good news, Clark said, is that the USDA’s interest rates did not go up April 1.
All applications have been completed and submitted. Neither Clark nor Western Water Consultants and Engineering professional engineer Jack Fritz have heard about any issues with the applications from either the USDA or SLIB.
“We are in a holding pattern right now,” Clark said.
Fritz said he understands the USDA is going to the national office of rural development to make their decision to accept the loan application.
In addition, for the $75,000 reserve capitalization account, Clark said he is going to ask each joint powers board entity for $15,000. Although state funding is up in the air, he said he feels that is not too much to ask for from the communities now that each is entering into the budgeting process.
“We do have to reach into our pockets to get this thing going and to show good faith,” Clark said.
Once the funding is approved, the pipeline should take 18 months to complete.
The next TRVJPB meeting is scheduled for May 18.