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As Kinder Morgan readies application, opponents schedule forum

PELHAM — As an energy company is set to file a lengthy application for a proposed 412-mile natural gas pipeline, a coalition will host a public information session to discuss what opponents sat will be its negative impacts.

On Nov. 20, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company plans to file an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the company’s Northeast Energy Direct project.

The project’s goal is to reduce energy costs, free up costly bottlenecks in infrastructure and replace other declining natural gas sources, according to Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s parent company, Kinder Morgan.

But the project has its fair share of critics.

Some common issues are environmental, property and health concerns. In addition, some people feel there isn’t a need for more natural gas in the area.

A lot of the details will be explained in the application, commission spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said.

“Usually these are boxes and boxes of information,” she said.

The company hopes to build miles of pipeline to carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to the Northeast.

The proposed pipeline is set to span 64 miles in Massachusetts, including Andover and Methuen. The project would also run 71 miles in New Hampshire, including Salem, Londonderry, Windham and Pelham.

And some of it is set to run through Julia Steed Mawson’s property.

The Pelham resident is a member of the Pelham/Windham Pipeline Awareness Group.

The group, which has about 30 active members, is hosting a public information session at Town Hall on Thursday, Nov. 12, from 6 to 9 p.m.

The purpose is to share information, expertise, and concerns about the project.

Members also hope to educate those not familiar with the project, so people can make their own decisions, she said.

“We’re really hoping this is a smorgasbord of information, because this is a very, very complex subject,” Steed Mawson said.

One main concern is preserving New Hampshire’s beauty and natural treasures that would be scuffed by the pipeline, she said

“This is a very, very important component for us as a region, and as a state,” Steed Mawson said.

According to Richard Wheatley, the director of communications for Kinder Morgan, some 90 percent of the Northeast Energy Direct project will go through existing utility corridors. And, construction will be in line with strict environmental standards.

In related news, Kinder Morgan buys some U.S. terminals from BP in $350 mln deal.

When it comes to taking land by eminent domain or paying a land owner, those issues will be dealt with as they come up, he said.

“Special situations involving landowners would have to be considered privately and on a case-by-case basis,” he said in an email.

The pipeline is also set to cross town land, he said, although not protected land or land owned by the Conservation Commission.

Another concern Steed Mawson and others have is two planned compressor stations, she said. One is set to be built in Dracut, about a mile away from the state border.

Those compressors can take up a lot of land, and contribute to air and noise pollution, among other negative impacts, Steed Mawson said.

However, Wheatley said, everything will be done by the book.

“We will comply with state and federal applicable rules and regulations, including those dealing with air and water,” he said. “TGP and Kinder Morgan and all of the Kinder Morgan businesses, each and every day, have a primary objective of operating safely.”

The compressors are able to push 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day through the pipeline.

Some people are concerned with that number, too.

With other energy projects in the area in the works, Steed Mawson said, there is not a need for that much natural gas here.

The project could further the dependency on natural gas and limit diverse energy options, she said.

However, Wheatley said, if there was no great need for the natural gas in the area, Kinder Morgan wouldn’t be interested.

“We would not build the project if there weren’t already contracts in place with companies who have signed on to purchase the natural gas,” he said.

Natural gas serves as a better transition toward renewable energy than coal and oil, according to Kinder Morgan.

And, Wheatley said, New England has seen a rapid growth in the need for electricity powered by natural gas. Infrastructure has not kept up, he said, making New England electricity costs some of the highest in the country.

Besides aspects of the project, the Pelham/Windham Pipeline Awareness Group will discuss how to reach out to elected officials.

Several state and local officials have been invited to the Thursday night meeting, Steed Mawson said.

There are other opportunities for public comment, too, Young-Allen of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said.

After the application is accepted, deadlines will be set so supporters, opponents and those looking to intervene can weigh in on the pipeline.

The federal commission will do its own analysis, where more public input will be gathered.

The commission usually votes on a project anywhere from one year to 18 months after a project is filed, Young-Allen said.

If you go

What: Kinder Morgan Pipeline Awareness Forum

Who: Hosted by the the Pelham/Windham Pipeline Awareness Group

When: Thursday, Nov. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: Pelham Town Hall, 6 Village Green

This article was written by James Niedzinski from The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.