An energy company with plans to develop a propane distribution terminal at Rigby Yard in South Portland has withdrawn its application, citing opposition from within city government.
NGL Energy Partners said it now hopes to bring its business to another Maine community interested in providing a reliable propane supply for 50,000 homes and businesses.
It has been a controversial project in South Portland from the start. Some residents worried about the potential for a massive explosion and other environmental and safety issues. Others suggested that the risks were being overstated.
“The location made sense in a certain way in that it was going into South Portland’s very large rail yard known as Rigby Yard,” said Tex Haeuser, the city’s director of planning and development. “But unfortunately the way the yard is laid out, they were proposing to put it at the place where it was closest to homes and businesses in the Cash Corner area of South Portland. So, it made people very nervous in that way.”
Despite concerns from some South Portland residents, the City Council in January rejected a proposed six-month moratorium on liquefied petroleum gas storage and distribution facilities.
Haeuser said since that time, members of the council have been working on possible amendments to the moratorium.
But on Thursday afternoon, NGL said it was withdrawing its plans.
In a written statement, Operations Manager Kevin Fitzgerald said despite a “good faith effort by the company to address all legitimate safety concerns and to comply with the city’s existing and prospective regulations, it has become apparent that some in city government are determined to oppose the project by any means possible and under any circumstances.”
“The company will look for other communities in southern Maine that will value the jobs, financial investment and tax revenues that the company can bring,” said Michael Cuzzi, a spokesman for the company.
Cuzzi declined any further comment.
But Haeuser said the economic impact of the project for South Portland was considered to be “negligible.”
“It was more a question, I think, of what are the regional energy needs and to what extent is a distribution facility in this area required in order to meet those needs,” he said.
In its statement, NGL said it remains committed to providing a “safe, reliable propane supply to over 50,000 homes and businesses” and will increase supplies at other regional terminals, including a site in Auburn for the short term, while exploring the development of a new facility at an alternate location in Maine.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public Broadcasting Network.