FERC to hear pipeline remarks

MILFORD – Federal of­ficials will be in town July 30 to take public comments on the proposed natural gas pipeline that would go through Milford and Am­herst and 15 other south­ern New Hampshire towns.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s "scoping session," as it’s called, will take place in Milford Town Hall Audi­torium from 6-11 p.m.

Town officials said it will be similar to a public hearing, with FERC tak­ing comments.

FERC and the state’s Site Evaluation Commit­tee will decide whether Kinder Morgan and Ten­nessee Gas Company will be allowed to put a 36- inch gas pipeline through the towns as part of its Northeast Direct proj­ect, which would take gas from Pennsylvania shale fields to Dracut, Mass.

Milford Selectman Gary Daniels said the session will give people the op­portunity to talk directly with FERC officials and give the officials the op­portunity to gather com­ments that have not been submitted to them already

Milford Town Adminis­trator Mark Bender said speakers will likely be given a time limit and the testimony recorded. "I ex­pect a crowd," he said.

Milford and Amherst boards of selectmen have come out against the pipeline plans, with Am­herst asking for a new route if the pipeline must go through, a route that avoids residential neigh­borhoods and sensitive conservation lands.

Daniels, who is also a state senator, was the only dissenting member when the Milford board voted several months ago.

On Monday he said he now sees no benefit from the pipeline going through the community.

"I cannot seem to get any guarantee" of any benefit, other than lower prices for those who are already hooked into natu­ral gas, he said.

Each of the towns had a pipeline task force, and last month Milford task force concluded that the pipeline’s benefits to New Hampshire would not make up for the harm it would do.

Of the 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day that would go through the pipeline, New Hampshire would use only about 6 percent, it reported and the gas would serve only one power-generating plant in New Hampshire.

That volume, it said, could be served by a lat­eral line from Massachu­setts at a lower cost.

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.The project will help meet a demand for more natural gas transportation capac­ity, according to Kinder Morgan.

The report says the board of selectmen should also ask the companies 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.

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