LINCOLN, Maine — Town leaders welcome a proposal to run a natural-gas pipeline to the town’s paper and tissue mill, but caution residents and other potential users that it might take a few years for the line to be ready.
Bangor Natural Gas recently inked a deal to provide compressed natural gas by pipeline to Lincoln Paper & Tissue LLC. As part of that agreement, company leaders are working with town officials to secure economic development incentives, such as a tax increment financing deal, to help make the pipeline extension workable, said Ruth Birtz, Lincoln’s economic development coordinator.
“We look at natural gas as being very good for the town,” Birtz said. “We are very excited about that because we think it will be a huge benefit to the mill.”
But Birtz and a company official at BNG’s Bangor office said they wouldn’t expect the line to be ready for residents, or for extension further north, such as into East Millinocket or Millinocket, for at least two years.
Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for the new Great Northern Paper Co. LLC of East Millinocket, and East Millinocket Administrative Assistant Shirley Tapley said they have not been contacted by Bangor Gas.
An official at Bangor Gas’s corporate headquarters in Montana referred comment Monday to the Bangor office. Company officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Gov. Paul LePage made extending a natural gas pipeline into Lincoln and the Katahdin region towns one of his administration’s goals in 2011. The paper mills in Lincoln, East Millinocket and Millinocket were expected to anchor the line.
Katahdin region officials have expressed hope that the gas line would spur some much-needed economic development in their towns.
LP&T announced its deal with Bangor Natural Gas on June 7. A company official speaking on condition of anonymity said the company would concentrate on getting the LP&T spur operational before extending beyond Lincoln.
The Lincoln spur serving the mill is scheduled to be finished in late 2014.
Lincoln businesses and residents have expressed interest in plugging into the line, but it is far too soon for the town to start collecting names, Birtz said.
“That could be two or three years out,” Birtz said.