New Hampshire governor asks for more pipeline open houses Kinder Morgan’s Milford open house postponed by blizzard

MILFORD – The governor of New Hampshire has asked Kinder Morgan, the energy company that wants to build a natural gas pipeline through southern New Hampshire, including Milford and Amherst, to engage more with the affected communities and hold more open houses.

An open house at Hampshire Hills that was scheduled for Jan. 27 was cancelled because of the blizzard. As of presstime no new date had been set.

The Northeast Energy Direct Project, as it is called is in the pre-filling stage for filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the commission requires open houses be held in communities along the proposed route.

Gov. Hassan wrote to Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan’s vice president of public affairs, asking that, in addition to the open houses scheduled for this January and February, the company arrange several more later in the year and prior to the official submission to FERC.

Kinder Morgan officials have indicated that they plan to officially file with FERC in the fall of 2015. The company will also have to seek approval from the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, which under state law will holds its own public hearings and information sessions.

An official decision by FERC would not be expected until late 2016.

“While Kinder Morgan has scheduled open houses in January and February as part of FERC’s pre-filing process, continued community engagement is vital to these discussions,” Hassan wrote.

The governor also asked Kinder Morgan that it only propose a project that brings “significant energy benefits” to the people and businesses of New Hampshire, reducing costs to ratepayers while respecting state siting requirements and protecting our natural resources.”

Pipeline opponents contend that there are no energy benefits to people who live along the proposed route and that people will have to pay an electric surcharge to support the construction.

Thirteen open houses, in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, are currently planned.

An opposition group called NH Pipeline Awareness sent a petition to Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Reps. Frank Guinta and Ann McLane Kuster, and Hassan requesting a postponement of formal proceedings.

In Milford and Amherst, where the pipeline route directly affects about 110 properties, task forces are being formed with the aid of town officials, and Amherst has an article on its town warrant asking for intervener status.

Kinder Morgan operates about 50 miles of gas pipeline in New Hampshire and this newest preferred route, the second try, enters the state in Cheshire County and heads east into Hillsborough County, going through Greenville, Mason, Brookline, Milford, Amherst, Merrimack, Hudson and Litchfield, then on to Londonderry before heading south to Dracut, Mass.

Last year, the route proposed for northern Massachusetts that would have affected Hollis and its 2,200-acre Beaver Brook Association land was scuttled after massive opposition from residents and officials.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.