The Maine Legislature will take up a proposal in January that could dramatically increase the state’s role in bringing natural gas to central Maine.

Yet, Portland-based Kennebec Valley Gas Co. wants pipeline communities to commit to a property tax rebate before they catch wind of the proposal.

State Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta has proposed legislation titled, “An Act to Expand the Availability of Natural Gas to Maine Residents.”

The bill will increase the loan guarantee limits at the Finance Authority of Maine and potentially give Kennebec Valley Gas Co. access to $25 million in loan guarantees backed by the full faith and credit of the state of Maine.

Kennebec Valley Gas Co. has told communities that its plans for tax increment financing requires participation by every community along the pipeline route. Without the $15 million in tax rebates, it claims, the promise of natural gas will be lost.

Not once has the gas company revealed in its presentations that the state, through FAME, may play a role in backing the project with cost saving loan guarantees.

Stewards of our tax dollars should take the time to fully understand how the state loan guarantees could change the financials of the pipeline proposal before committing our scarce property tax dollars to the project.

It appears that Kennebec Valley Gas Co. is pressuring pipeline towns to approve its TIF district programs before the general public becomes aware that it also can seek up to a $25 million in guaranteed loan, through FAME.

Tim Russell

Sidney

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