Hancock Resident Offers Alternative to Proposed Gas Pipeline

Although plans for the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline were only recently presented to the Town Council, opponents to the project have organized and are urging residents to take action.

“The thing people don’t understand is that this process is way down the railroad track,” said Patrick Leary of Hancock, who is proposing an alternate route to Kinder Morgan’s preferred route, which crosses into New Hampshire from Massachusetts, cutting through 17 communities, including Londonderry, before crossing back over the state line in Pelham.

Leary, who has 40 years of experience as a systems engineer in communications, argues that New England’s need for more gas is a symptom of its need for electricity. He thinks the best solution to the electricity shortage south of New Hampshire is located on Tennessee Gas’s existing route, just west of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts.

“Nothing is going to stop the pipeline, so I thought, ‘how do we minimize it?’” he said.

Leary proposes terminating the pipeline near the Connecticut River, ending the pipeline route shortly before it enters New Hampshire, and installing an electricity-generation complex.

If a large enough plant were installed, it would add the required amount of electricity as a “base load power plant,” which would increase the reliability of the New England grid, according to Leary.

 “We have a gas shortage in the winter because there’s an electricity shortage in Massachusetts. If there were not an electricity shortage, there would not be a gas shortage,” he said. “We haven’t found anyone who likes the pipeline. In general, no one likes this thing.”

“A 36-inch gas line is a massive volume – it’s tremendous,” Ray Breslin of 3 Gary Drive said. “It’s not here for New Hampshire. They just want to pass it through to get it to the coast. It offers no advantage to Londonderry and it’s questionable what value it has to the state.”

Leary said when he started considering potential solutions to concerns surrounding the pipeline, he wanted to make it as short as possible. He thinks the reason someone hasn’t already brought forward a proposal like his own is because electricity-generating companies are waiting for the gas pipeline to be situated before offering proposals.

“Gas and electricity don’t mix. These people don’t talk to each other,” he said. “They are divorced from each other at that level.”

If Leary’s proposal were considered a viable option, it would keep the pipeline from entering New Hampshire.

In Londonderry, a 400-foot “study corridor” has been established, which is comprised of 39 landowners whose properties could potentially be affected by construction. The corridor Kinder Morgan is considering for the pipeline enters Londonderry at the Litchfield town line near Morway Drive, running along the Public Service of New Hampshire (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.

Property owners inside the study corridor were notified by letter and Kinder Morgan representatives planned to meet with all property owners in person.

Hartman said representatives planned to begin seeking survey permission from property owners by the end of the month.

Town officials in Londonderry say they haven’t heard concerns from residents regarding the pipeline, noting the project was only recently presented to the community.

Conservation Commissioner Mike Speltz said his primary concern is that the pipeline would pass through wetlands, but added that it’s still early to take a position on the project.

Town Manager Kevin Smith agreed, saying the Town continues to gather information about the project.

State Senator Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry noted the Town will host a “listening session” for the Northeast Energy Direct Project and encourages residents to attend and gather information.

The Northeast Energy Direct Open House is scheduled for Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. in the Londonderry High School gymnasium.