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Gas pipeline could fill Danvers coffers

DANVERS – A proposed natural gas pipeline through a western section of town has not fueled emotions the way it has in neighboring Peabody, and that’s because the new pipeline would travel along an existing utility corridor that skirts the town’s former landfill on East Coast Road.

“We haven’t had any calls from residents because it’s at the landfill,” Town Manager Steve Bartha told selectmen Tuesday night as he brought them up to speed on the project. The pipeline would not be near any homes in Danvers.

The pipeline, if approved and built within the next few years, could gas up town coffers though.

“The estimated annual tax projection [for] Danvers … is $150,000 the first year after the project is in service,” said Richard Wheatley, a spokesman for Houston, Texas-based energy infrastructure giant Kinder Morgan Inc., via email. That payment, however, is subject to depreciation in subsequent years.

The project is meant to assist the Northeast and New England in meeting its energy needs as the region has a constrained pipeline capacity for natural gas.

The pipeline through Danvers would be part of what is called the Northeast Energy Direct Project, which is being proposed by Tennessee Gas Pipeline, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan. It’s part of a $3.3 billion investment to lay a 30-inch pipeline extending 188 miles from a point near Wright, New York down to Dracut. The project also includes 59 miles of lateral pipelines in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The 20-inch pipeline through West Peabody is called the Lynnfield Lateral. Subject to regulatory approvals, the project is expected to be in service by Nov. 1, 2018.

“There is no specific timetable available on when construction might start in various locations,” Wheatley said.

In related news, Idea for gas terminal off East Coast rankles fracking foes.

Bartha said the pipeline in Danvers would travel along three New England Power Company utility easements. It would skirt the landfill and hook up with an existing tap in the Rosewood Office Park. The tap, Bartha said, was installed a decade ago as part of the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline project.

“The Conservation Commission will weigh in at some point,” Bartha said, “because it does go through some wetlands.”

Much of the reason for the opposition by residents and officials in Peabody stems from the fact the lateral route has been proposed along the Independence Greenway recreational path and within close proximity of the Ipswich River.

In addition to outlining the project’s impact in Danvers, Bartha told selectmen Tennessee Gas Pipeline officials have expressed interest in acquiring eight miles of utility easements the town bought in 1978 in Lynnfield, North Reading and Middleton.

The town purchased the easements from the Massachusetts Electric Co. for $167,000, Bartha said. The corridor was supposed to be used as a backup electric feed into town — Danvers operates its own municipal electric utility. Danvers Electric, however, wound up running the backup feed into town from a different location.

“Those easements are not useful,” said Bartha, adding that he understood the proposed Tennessee Gas pipeline also passes through those three towns before entering Danvers. He said it would be best to have a conversation with the other communities to see what they think about these easements in relation to the pipeline project.

When asked in an email about these easements, Wheatley responded: “We are reviewing relevant right-of-way information. At this time, we contemplate no changes to proposed routing in the area.”

A small segment of the proposed pipeline route travels into Middleton in the vicinity of the Bostik adhesives plant on Boston Street before joining a route along Peabody’s Independence Greenway.

Middleton Town Administrator Ira Singer described the Danvers utility easement as bisecting much of the town. Singer said the abandoned rail bed runs in back of Essex Street, passes by the Howe Manning School on Central Street, and travels all the way to the former Danvers State Hospital property. Singer said there have been low-level discussions with Danvers about Middleton acquiring it to create a rail trail.

Singer said Bartha assured him Danvers did not plan to sell this easement to the gas pipeline company.

“He assured me … that they had no intention of selling it to Tennessee Gas at this point in time and he would give right of first refusal (to Middleton),” Singer said.

This article was written by Ethan Forman from The Salem News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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