Progress in funding for the Tongue River Valley natural gas pipeline project is the focus of a meeting tonight (Thursday, March 27) in Dayton.
The Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board will meet at 7 in the Lucille Alley Room of the town hall. The agenda includes a progress report on House Bill 47, which clears the way for the board to apply for a 50/50 grant-loan from the State Land and Investment Board to finance the line.
State Representative Rosie Berger told Sheridan Media this week that the bill has been signed by the governor. The Republican from Big Horn sponsored the measure in this year's legislative session. House Bill 47 added language that allows the state board to fund natural gas utility pipelines and distribution centers as essential public services if they are to rural and unserved areas.
The towns of Dayton and Ranchester and School District 1 formed the joint powers board last year to bring natural gas service to residents and the district's three schools in the area. The valley currently relies on propane, which is costly and – the state representative said – a safety issue. She introduced the bill in the Wyoming House. She said one of her points at the time was that the state is spending millions to build new schools in Wyoming, and is then paying a tremendous amount of money to heat those facilities with propane.
She said the bill that clears the way for Dayton and Ranchester to seek state funds for the proposed new pipeline will benefit other areas in Wyoming, as well. She said 36-percent of rural communities in the state do not have natural gas service.