Gas Pipeline Board Eyes 2014/15 Budget

The Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board will likely ask for more money in the new budget year that starts July 1. For Sheridan Media, here's reporter Pat Blair with the report.

The Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board, charged with helping bring a natural gas pipeline to Ranchester and Dayton, will probably seek a bigger budget in the coming fiscal year. Chairman Peter Clark said the board has almost exhausted the $6,000 it was given last November for operating expenses. That money has gone for consulting and legal fees and office supplies. The chairman said members are considering a request of at least $5,000 each from Sheridan County School District 1 and the towns of Dayton and Ranchester.

The school district and the towns are the participants in the board, which was formed last year to explore how to bring natural gas service to the Tongue River Valley. Residents in the two towns, and the school district's three schools, currently must rely on propane gas for heating needs. The joint powers board chairman said a switch to natural gas would reduce energy costs for residents by two-thirds – a savings of $1,000 a year per household.

The board is currently proposing construction of a pipeline that would bring natural gas from MDU facilities in Sheridan to the valley by way of Soldier Creek and Keystone roads. The pipeline would divide at that point, carrying gas to Dayton along Dayton East Road, and to Ranchester along Wolf Creek Road. The board has applied to the State Land and Investment Board for $6 million in a 50/50 grant and loan to finance the work.

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