What they say, what they mean

I have been pondering the meaning of what Vermont Gas and the Department of Public Service mean when they use catchy lines and phrases to convince the Vermont Public Service Board and Vermonters that the Addison "Natural" Gas Project is actually in the interest of Vermonters and current VGS ratepayers. Here is what I have come up with as a translation guide for those who are as confused as I was:

What VGS says: "On-schedule." What VGS means: Two years late.

What VGS says: "On-budget." What VGS means: Twice the proposed cost.

What VGS and DPS say: "We have an MOU." What VGS and DPS mean: "We have a Method for Outmaneuvering Unimportant people."

What VGS says: "Our MOU caps the cost to ratepayers for pipeline expansion at $134 million." What they mean: "We'll only charge ratepayers $134 million if the weather is beautiful, and landowners waive their constitutional rights to due process before their land is seized through corporate-friendly eminent domain."

What DPS says: "Our MOU caps the cost to ratepayers for pipeline expansion at $134 million" What DPS means: "We have sold out the public interest for $13 million MORE than what VGS swore this project would cost at their last cost estimate increase in July 2014."

What VSG says: "The benefits outweigh the costs." What VGS means: "It's OK to force each of our 48,000 current customers to pay an average of $8,000 extra over 25 years to build this pipeline and then pass on the majority of any resulting savings on to a handful of new industrial clients."


What DPS says: "The benefits outweigh the costs." What DPS means: "Trust us. We are doing the right thing for Vermonters, but don't look too closely at the numbers."

What DPS says: "We advocate for the interests of ratepayers and the public." What DPS means: "We advocate for VGS and the governor's position because they know better what's good for Vermonters."

What VGS says: "Pipeline Natural Gas is Cheaper, Cleaner." What VGS means: "It's cheaper for Gaz Metro to take VGS customers to the cleaners than to pay for its own darned pipeline."

What VGS says: "This is about bringing choice and opportunity to Addison County." What VGS means: "We're giving Addison County families the opportunity to pay huge upfront conversion costs to switch to another dirty fossil fuel instead of giving them access to a bridge fuel like delivered CNG, or cleaner and cheaper options like heat pumps... and we are convincing them its their choice!"

What VGS says to landowners: "Our easement deed protects homeowners because it only mentions one pipeline." What VGS means: "Properties are protected right up until we propose the next pipeline and get another certificate of public good rubber stamped by the Public Service Board."

What VGS says: "We're filing for eminent domain as a last resort." What VGS means: "We have been waving the eminent domain weapon around all along...we are just now putting the gun to the temples of those who are still resisting. We only call it a last resort because we really don't want to pull the trigger as it will cost us a bunch of money and time as well. "

What VGS says: "Vermont Gas respects landowners and our customers." What it means: Nothing.

— Jane Palmer Monkton