Extending the natural gas line from Richmond to Madison and the extent of the state’s involvement in financing such a project is an interesting debate.

Yes, a loan guarantee for a significant part of the cost does pose some risk to Maine taxpayers, but the benefits from the project are great. When its construction cost of $70 million to $80 million is compared to federal subsidies for alternative energy projects, it does not seem like such an outrageous amount of money.

For example, the original LURC application submitted in 2009 by Angus King and Rob Gardiner for a 48-turbine industrial wind development in Western Maine stated in Section 2.2 that Highland Wind, LLC expected to receive $70 million from the US Treasury toward the cost of the project.

Coincidentally, this is about the same amount of financing that is needed to construct the natural gas line. A million dollars per mile for the gas line is a lot of money, but so is $1.45 million per turbine from the taxpayers that will produce expensive intermittent power at 30 percent efficiency for about 20 years.

In the case of extending the pipeline, we are talking loan guarantees, not cash grants as given to wind power developers, and if done correctly the risk to Maine taxpayers will be minimal.

The preferred way to see the pipeline funded would be through private capital, but that’s not how it is done for industrial wind where taxpayers take the risk and the wind power companies take the profits.

Norman Kalloch

Carrying Place Town Township

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