The Public Service Board has hit Vermont Gas Systems with a $100,000 fine for failing to report cost overruns in a timely fashion.
The board concluded that Vermont Gas Systems waited at least six months to report a 41 percent cost overrun in its controversial Addison County pipeline project.
“Trust and transparency are essential for effective regulation,” the board wrote in its ruling, accusing Vermont Gas Systems of “undermining the effectiveness of the regulatory process and creating mistrust in that process among members of the public.”
“This is the first time these board rules are being clarified. It’s clear that utilities doing projects of this sort need to pay attention to these rules and I think it’s going to benefit ratepayers,” says Public Service Department Commissioner Chris Recchia.
The board’s initial approval of the project in December, 2013 assumed a cost of $86.6 million.
In July, 2014, Vermont Gas Systems filed an updated estimate with the board, indicating the cost had ballooned to $121.6 million.
In a statement Vermont Gas Systems President and CEO Don Rendall said, "We understand and respect the Board's order with regard to events that occurred during the first half of last year. We will comply with the order.”
The Public Service Board is also considering whether to reopen deliberations on Vermont Gas Systems’ Certificate of Public Good for the project in the wake of the cost overruns.
The Department of Public Service has recommended that the board not take that step.