Report: Pipeline has minimal benefit for Milford

MILFORD – The benefits from a natural gas pipeline would not make up for the harm it would do, according to a report presented to selectmen Monday evening.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline is planned for 76 miles of southern New Hampshire, including 3 miles through Milford.

And of the 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day that would go through the pipeline, New Hampshire would use only about 6 percent, says the report from the Milford Pipeline Task Force.

New England will use about 22 percent, and the Northeast Energy Direct project, as it is called, will serve only one power-generating plant in New Hampshire.

“It seems illogical to route the pipeline from Massachusetts into New Hampshire and then back to its terminus in Massachusetts when less than 6 percent of the gas will be used in New Hampshire,” says the report’s executive summary.

“That volume could be served by a lateral line from Massachusetts at a lower cost … and with less socio-economic and environmental impacts in New Hampshire.”

Milford will see $428,000 in tax revenue and perhaps lower gas and electric bills, but some residential properties could see lower valuations, says the report. In addition, Milford, and all the towns on the route, will need to train emergency responders and make plans for possible problems during or after construction.

Citing the town’s master plan and the expressed desire of residents to protect its character, the report says the pipeline “would significantly impact the rural nature of the town and neighborhoods.”

The task force “recognizes the need for additional natural gas to generate electricity for New Hampshire and all of New England” and that “New England governors have made natural gas sourcing a priority.” But although “our residential and non-residential rates are among the highest in the United States,” the project seems too big.

“FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) should consider if the Northeast Energy Direct project is the right size for the demand and ensure they have accounted for the unsubscribed capacity,” said the report’s executive summary.

FERC should also consider alternate pipeline plans, like the Spectra Energy Corp. project that is expected to meet the demands of power generators by either replacing pipelines with those of a larger diameter or by adding compression stations, with significantly less “overall socio-economic and environmental and construction impact.”

Additionally, says the Milford report, Distrigas of Massachusetts, a leading importer of liquefied natural gas, signed a long-term agreement in May to supply liquefied natural gas to a large New England utility company to meet peak demand periods next winter and through 2024.

Appointed by the Board of Selectmen last winter, the Milford task force includes members of the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Traffic Safety, Economic Development and Heritage committees, along with Town Administrator Mark Bender and a member at large.

Bender said the task force approved the document unanimously.

The Milford portion of the NED would go through the Federal Hill and Comstock Road areas, the Federal Point development, and mostly near electric power lines. That impact includes 32 residences within 300 feet of the pipeline, 185 houses within a quarter-mile and 392 within a half-mile. All these homes have private wells and septic systems that need protection.

Finally, the report urges selectmen to sign a May 6 letter that opposes the pipeline, drafted by the New Hampshire Municipal Pipeline Coalition and addressed to the governor and other elected officials.

Based on “the minimal benefits to Milford and New Hampshire, the task force recommends that the Board of Selectmen affirm their opposition to the Northeast Direct Pipeline.”

The report says the board should also ask Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, to research alternate routes that would avoid Milford’s “relatively high-density neighborhoods” between Federal Hill and Ponemah Hill roads in the event FERC approves the project.

Selectmen said they need time to read the report.

The pipeline’s route goes through Amherst, and Amherst’s pipeline task force report focused on safety and economic impact. Selectmen there have asked Kinder Morgan, the infrastructure company, to reroute the pipeline away from residential neighborhoods and conservation land.

Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct Project is in the pre-filing stage, and company officials have said they plan to officially file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later this year.

The proposed route also has to gain approval from the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.

The project would expand the existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline system through Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut and help meet a demand for more natural gas transportation capacity, according to Kinder Morgan.

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