Getting the Word out about Proposed Gas Pipeline

January 23, 2015
Map of the proposed pipeline

Map of the proposed pipeline

by Lynne Ober

Has a natural gas controversy arrived in New Hampshire or will residents prefer the option of cheaper utilities?  Time will tell.  In New Hampshire, the proposed route follows already established PSNH (Public Service of New Hampshire) easements and when construction is completed and the pipeline buried, there will be no visible sign of the pipeline.  There will be no need to acquire property via public domain.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KM), has been transporting natural gas to the northeast United States since the 1950s.  With this area now facing a critical shortage of natural gas, studies have been done and concluded that additional pipeline infrastructure is needed.  To address that, TGP is proposing improvements and submitted a draft environmental report in December 2014.  Recently reviews of that report were requested to be completed by February 2.

In some areas along the proposed route, residents first became aware when answering a knock on the door; the question was whether KM could survey by drilling to discover what was under the topsoil.  From there questions began to surface that included how payment for the project would impact local residents in towns.  In New Hampshire the plan is to use existing rights of way along the PSNH easements.

KM has made plans to hold a series of public hearings at places with adequate parking and display areas.  According to the company questions will be answered, but there will also be booths where public members can stop, see maps, chat with staff.  On Feb. 19, one such event will be held at the White Birch Banquet Hall at 222 Central St., Hudson from 6 to 8 p.m.

That is not their only plan for communication.  Just recently KM began knocking on doors in Pelham to talk directly with residents who live along the route.

Would there be a surcharge on the already high electrical bill to pay for this?  To date there still aren’t a lot of firm answers – projects of this magnitude go through several designs and several iterations before they are built, if they are ever built.

The final pipeline siting decision will be made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Once a FERC permit has been granted, their land can be taken through eminent domain, which is not something that any resident wishes to hear.  However, TGP has developed a map showing the pipeline running along existing rights of way already granted to utilities.  According to the report filed in December 2014, “If the proposed pipeline were to be routed in New Hampshire, the proposed pipeline would follow the ROW (right of way) of an existing power line in New Hampshire, which would minimize the impacts to the environment and landowners.  The proposed power line route would be approximately 70 miles of 36-inch mainline routed through Southern New Hampshire with approximately 64 miles being co-located with an existing 345 kV power line corridor.  The correspondingly required station facilities in New Hampshire involve an 80,000 HP compressor station consisting of 3 Titan 250 units, and also a 50,000 dth/d meter station.  Of the 70 miles of mainline, 29 miles will be located in Cheshire County, 36 miles in Hillsborough County, and five miles in Rockingham County.  Both the compressor station and meter station will be sited in Hillsborough County.”

Those in favor of the project talk about using those rights of ways, which is proposed for New Hampshire, but also about the addition of clean, domestic gas supplies that could potentially lower high utility costs.  Experts think that the availability of a low-cost energy source is critical to attracting and retaining businesses and will bring jobs and economic growth into the region.  Currently, natural gas service is not available in most areas of New Hampshire forcing residents and businesses to rely on oil and costly electricity to meet their needs.

The project is estimated to need 520 temporary construction workers to complete the New Hampshire portion of the project, which would be a boon to the construction industry, but only three permanent New Hampshire jobs will be created by this project.

The New England region remains the most oil-reliant region in the nation.  With natural gas, one-half of the carbon emissions generated by burning oil would be eliminated.  Natural gas also produces less sulfur dioxide, which is a primary precursor of acid rain and less nitrogen oxide, which is a precursor of smog.

Affected towns will see an anticipated increase of $11.1 million in taxes.  School districts will also benefit from an estimated $5.7 million in taxes collected by the state.

Residents who are concerned should ask their selectmen to set up a public hearing with the company for them so that they can ask questions and get answers.