Kinder Morgan has authorized Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company to proceed with the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) project’s “market path” segment from New York to Dracut, Mass. – a $3.3 billion, 30-inch natural gas pipeline designed to serve natural gas utilities and electricity generation customers in New England.
“Tennessee, as a result of its ongoing negotiations with customers for the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) Project, has now determined that it will proceed with the 30-inch-diameter pipeline from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut, Mass.,” the company wrote in an Environmental Report and Project Scope Update filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on July 24.
“We are excited that the market path component is moving forward and a determination now has been made on mainline capacity for the project, which is specifically targeted at serving the Northeast and New England’s identified future market needs,” Kinder Morgan East Region Pipelines President Kimberly S. Watson said. “At 30 inches in diameter, a 1.3 Bcf/d (billion cubic feet per day) pipeline will serve the commitments we have received from New England local gas distribution companies (LDCs) and commitments we expect to receive from other LDCs and electric distribution companies (EDCs) to provide domestic, low cost and environmentally cleaner natural gas as a fuel for New England’s residential and industrial consumers, and to meet New England’s existing and anticipated gas-fired electricity generation demand.”
The pipeline, which as proposed would cut through about 2.5 miles of property in Londonderry, was originally proposed and most recently presented in public meetings as 36 inches in diameter.
“While Tennessee Gas is now moving forward with a 30-inch pipeline design, circumstances could arise in the very near term as more capacity commitments are made that would necessitate a design modification to a 36-inch pipeline design, and that would require us to file an amended application with the FERC,” Watson said. “Tennessee Gas intends to file the certificate application for the project in October 2015 to meet the full design capacity of 1.3 Bcf/d. Kinder Morgan will scale the facilities to match the firm subscription obtained by seeking authorization to install the compression on an ‘as needed’ basis, with the ability to add additional compression later up to the full design capacity as additional capacity is subscribed. Subject to the timely receipt of necessary regulatory permits, NED is anticipated to commence service in November 2018.”
In response to the revised scope of the project, Cherylann Pierce, a Londonderry opponent to the pipeline who is working to raise awareness in Londonderry and around the State, sent a letter to several representatives of the Town.
“I implore you to notice that over the weekend, Kinder Morgan (regarding FERC Docket # PF 14-22) dropped a brand new, 6,571 page set of Resource Reports for a different sized project than the thus far ‘proposed Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline,’” she wrote. “This unconscionable action renders comments from Pennsylvania and New York residents at recent, respective scoping meetings irrelevant. This leaves residents in Massachusetts and here in New Hampshire no time to properly evaluate this ‘new’ content for commenting at currently scheduled meetings.”
Pierce called on FERC to issue a new notice of intent and schedule new scoping meetings in affected communities, as well as initiate a new, 60-day comment period. She also implored the representatives to “please stop any pipeline.
“Let us be responsible stewards of our land and concentrate seriously on alternative renewable sources, such as, but certainly not limited to, hydro, geothermal, wind turbine, consumption reduction by using LED, anything but fossil fuel,” she wrote.
So far, Pierce said she has only heard back from Congresswoman Ann Kuster, D-2nd Dist. NH, who emphasized that she understands the importance of the issue.
Kinder Morgan Public Affairs Consultant Lucas Meyer said no new meetings are being scheduled as a result of Tennessee Gas’ decision to proceed with the 30-inch pipeline.
“The change in diameter of the pipe doesn’t change much, other than the economics of the project,” Meyer said. “There is a slightly smaller workspace now, and a slightly smaller easement.”
The Town Council took a position against the pipeline last month, voting 5-0 to approve a resolution opposing its construction in Londonderry.
“The pipeline will create no direct benefit to the residents of Londonderry, and the disruption to the residents of Londonderry caused by the construction of the new pipeline may outweigh the benefits to the Town and its residents,” the resolution states.
At the direction of the Council, Town Manager Kevin Smith requested Kinder Morgan submit to the Town a list of abutters to the proposed pipeline route.
Meyer said Kinder Morgan won’t release the list of abutters until the company has finished title work for the project and has identified exactly who the abutters are.
“We don’t want to release confidential information until the research is complete and we know who is there,” he said. “When the application is formally filed, the list will be provided.”
On July 22, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) continued its hearing on Liberty Utility’s Firm Transportation Agreement with Tennessee Gas Pipeline for additional natural gas pipeline capacity.
Liberty announced the corporation signed a 20-year agreement with Kinder Morgan to transport up to 115,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/d) of lower cost natural gas to its New Hampshire customers on the proposed pipeline project in November 2014, then filed a petition for approval of the agreement with the PUC on Dec. 31, 2014.
Kinder Morgan has cited the contract as evidence the company’s proposed pipeline is needed in Southern New Hampshire.
In support of the contract, Liberty argues the agreement will enhance the reliability of their natural gas system in New Hampshire and lower electric prices, enhancing the overall reliability of the electric grid in New England.
According to the independent electric system operator ISO New England, New Englanders paid over $7 billion more for electricity during the winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 than what they paid for electricity during the winter of 2011-12, largely as a result of the existing lack of pipeline capacity servicing the region, Kinder Morgan wrote in a press release. Independent studies have concluded that the New England region will require 2 Bcf/d of gas capacity over the coming years.
But opponents to the pipeline have argued the scope of the project is far more extensive than what is needed to support demand for natural gas in the region and lower electricity costs – a concern that was supported in testimony from the PUC’s expert witness and the agency’s consumer advocate, who oppose the deal.
The PUC hearing on the agreement was continued to Aug. 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Kinder Morgan last month launched an informational website, Energymattersnh.com, to provide answers to commonly asked questions about the pipeline project. The website includes videos, a blog and a schedule of upcoming meetings.
Alternatively, NHPipelineAwareness.org seeks to provide information in opposition to construction of the NED natural gas pipeline in New England.
Both Kinder Morgan and opposition groups will be available at booths during Old Home Day to provide residents with information and answer questions.