Options expanding for gas pipeline in Tongue River Valley

DAYTON — More options are opening up for the Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board as discussions about the best way to bring natural gas to Dayton and Ranchester continue.

At its meeting Thursday, the board discussed a few possibilities for funding and partnerships should the board’s application for a grant and a loan from the State Loan and Investment Board be denied or deemed unfeasible, board Chairman Peter Clark said.

The natural gas board has submitted a request to SLIB for $2.5 million in grant funds and a $3.5 million loan for a total estimated project cost of $6 million. SLIB is expected to make decisions on the latest round of applications in June.

Bringing natural gas to the Tongue River Valley will provide a cheaper heating option than propane or electric.

d by a representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office about the board’s proposed project. They held a preliminary discussion about USDA Rural Development loan options.

“The advantage of USDA is that they don’t have a 1 percent origination fee, so we’d save $30,000 or so off the top,” Clark said.

A SLIB loan requires a 1 percent origination fee, which is similar to a down payment on a house.

The Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board has also been approached by the Wyoming Pipeline Authority, a state agency that promotes the development of intrastate and interstate pipeline infrastructure in order to enhance natural resource development within Wyoming.

While the Authority has never been part of such a small project, Clark said it expressed interest in discussing a possible partnership where the Wyoming Pipeline Authority and the Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board would each own half the pipeline.

Members of the natural gas board hope to schedule a conference call with WPA representatives soon.

Clark said he has also received an email from SourceGas Company Manager of Community and Government Affairs Norm Long who said he wanted to hear more about the project.

In other business, the board paid $2,400 in bills for office supplies, lawyer fees, consulting fees and the survey it sent in January to gauge interest in the valley in switching to natural gas.

The board also discussed at length how much it needs to request from each board entity — Ranchester, Dayton and Sheridan County School District 1 — in the upcoming fiscal year 2014-2015 budgeting season. Figures from $5,000 to $10,000 were mentioned. Clark said board members also expressed gratitude for how much various business partners have discounted fees to help the project get off the ground.

“We would not have made it as far along as we have without their help,” Clark said.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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