Tongue River Valley Moves Forward With Pipeline Plans

If all goes according to plans, a pipeline to bring natural gas to Ranchester and Dayton could be in operation in 2018.

Ranchester Mayor Peter Clark, who's chairman of the Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board, said an application for money to build the pipeline will go to the State Loan and Investment Board this week. Deadline for the application to be submitted is Thursday, and the state board will meet in January to consider applications.

The Tongue River Valley board, which has been working on the project for three years, is asking for a $3 million Mineral Royalties grant and a $1 million loan to finance construction. Clark described the proposed route the pipeline will take.

He said this will be the third trip to the SLIB board, and he added the board hasn't yet rejected any applications for funds. He said the Wyoming Business Council has a lot of interest in this project.

The pipeline will be owned by the Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board, which will buy the natural gas from Montana-Dakota Utilities and resell it to customers in the Tongue River Valley. Clark said predictions call for about 600 customers initially, with the towns of Ranchester and Dayton, and Sheridan County School District 1, serving as anchors. The joint powers board is made up of representatives of the two towns and the school district.

The goal of the project has been to replace propane gas with the cheaper natural gas to serve residents in the Tongue River Valley. Clark said the hope is that will eventually include ranchers and other residents outside the two towns.