Council Gets Presentation on Proposed Gas Pipeline Route

Energy company Kinder Morgan plans to begin surveying land in Londonderry along its preferred route for a 36-inch natural gas pipeline, representatives told the Town Council in a Monday night, Jan. 5 presentation.

Meanwhile, a petition to the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation to postpone a decision regarding construction of the pipeline is gaining momentum and has garnered almost 2,000 signatures.

NHPipelineAwareness.org, an online opposition group, plans to deliver the petition to Gov. Maggie Hassan and Congressional delegates.

The preferred route for the pipeline crosses into New Hampshire from Massachusetts, cutting through 17 communities, including Londonderry, before crossing back over the state line in Pelham.

Most of the 2.5 mile route through Londonderry is located in the Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) power line right-of-way. It’s estimated the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s annual property tax payment to the Town would be $280,000.

A 400-foot “study corridor” has been established, which is comprised of 39 landowners whose properties could potentially be affected by construction. The corridor through which Kinder Morgan is considering the route for the pipeline enters Londonderry at the Litchfield town line near Morway Drive, running along the PSNH power lines, across the West Road Fields, and heading southeast past Elwood Orchards into Hudson.

About five properties in the study corridor belong to the Town, with most of the properties being residential, according to Jim Hartman, Kinder Morgan’s right-of-way agent.

Allen Fore, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan, told the Council property owners inside the study corridor were notified by letter and that Kinder Morgan representatives will meet with all property owners in person.

“Starting towards the end of this week or early next week, we will be seeking survey permission to go out and look at the land,” he said.

“We do get push-back,” Hartman said. “But it’s our job to resolve it.”

The surveys will determine the location of wells, septic systems and cultural resources. Kinder Morgan will then have the ability to prepare plans and request permission to construct the pipeline.

If all goes well and the company obtains its state and federal approvals, construction could begin in the spring of 2017. Following that timeline, the pipeline could be in service by the winter of 2018, according to Fore.

There is need for natural gas in New Hampshire more than anywhere else, Fore told the Council.

“There’s a limited way to get gas here. We’re talking about expanding the system,” he said.

The system has been servicing the area for 60 years, delivering natural gas to the region.

“New England gas prices in the winter of 2014 were the highest in the nation, a direct result of natural gas transportation constraints caused by insufficient pipeline infrastructure in New England, resulting in consumers in the region spending at least $3 billion per year for electricity. This annual cost paid by New England consumers for electricity would pay for the additional pipeline infrastructure needed in just one year and would meet the energy needs of the region for years to come,” according to Kinder Morgan.

State Rep. Bob Introne, R-Londonderry, who is chairman of the Science, Technology and Energy Committee, said the State doesn’t have enough power in the foreseeable future.

“We can’t shut down all possibilities for more energy,” he said. “Am I against this project? If they use current rights-of-way as they claim they will, it probably will be all right and won’t distress the beauty of the area or anyone’s land. If they start cutting through people’s backyards and gardens and homes, I think they will need to find alternative routes.”

Introne attended Kinder Morgan’s presentation, which was a bit rushed due to time constraints on the Council’s meeting, to gather more information.

Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry also attended the meeting. Her Senate district includes two communities to be affected by the pipeline, Hudson and Londonderry. She attended to learn more about the project.

“Right now I’m just trying to get all the information,” she said. “It sounds like there will be many opportunities for people to come and weigh in. I would encourage people to go to the open meetings and pay attention.”

Carson said she would like to post information provided to the Council online in a place that will make it easily accessible to residents.

Opponents to the pipeline say the project is a massive overbuild.

“They based their claim of need on peak demand, which isn’t functioning all the time. The capacity of these pipelines far exceeds the state’s energy needs,” Douglas Whitbeck, a longtime volunteer with New Hampshire 350, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness for Global Warming, said in December. “The purpose is to get gas to the world market. If the idea is to get a pipeline funded through a tariff on our electric bill to provide a private corporation a working pipeline for global export – that is a worthy discussion.”

Moving forward, Fore said Kinder Morgan plans to continue meeting with Towns to be affected and will return for public meetings as frequently as needed.

Additionally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will be hosting meetings to address the scope of the project and the State will participate through its siting authority; the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is open for public comment and review.

“We want to have a good dialogue with the Town,” Fore said. “This is a very public process with lots of public dialogue, and the pipeline wouldn’t be in service until 2018.”

According to the presentation, all post-construction areas would be restored to their previous conditions, and the pipeline would be completely underground, with compressor stations located across the route. There are no plans to install a compressor station in Londonderry.

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