Kinder Morgan came to North Reading to shed more light on its proposal to run a new gas pipeline through town.
The officials weren’t exactly met with open arms as residents, neighbors to the project, town officials and state officials took aim at the company’s proposal.
The selectmen were particularly galled that Kinder Morgan began knocking on neighbors’ doors and asking them to access their property before the company informed Town Hall or the Board of Selectmen about the proposed project.
A lot was discussed during the two-hour-plus meeting.
Here are eight things to know about the gas pipeline project:
It’s not a done deal.
Kinder Morgan officials repeatedly said the company is in the very early stages of a potential project. The company still needs to explore the pipeline location further and multiple federal and state approvals are required. The North Reading Conservation Commission will also play a role in the approval process.
The current proposal to run the pipe along the power lines that cross Route 28, Park Street and Haverhill Street might change depending on Kinder Morgan’s review and input from multiple federal and state departments.
Kinder Morgan said environmental and landowner issues will be taken into account. The company will also have to work with NSTAR, which owns the wires, to see where Kinder Morgan could place the pipeline.
The pipeline would connect two larger pipes.
The proposed Lynnfield line would run from Dracut to Lynnfield and would be a 20-inch pipe that would run from Kinder Morgan’s larger north and south lines, which are 32-inch pipes. The pipe would be put three feet underground.
The lines would transport gas. Kinder Morgan is not a drilling company.
The Lynnfield line would be part of a larger 13,000-mile Tennessee Gas pipeline system. It is one of two primary systems that transport gas to New England.
Kinder Morgan customers include Boston Gas, NSTAR and Essex County Gas. Kinder Morgan is the biggest server of gas in the area.
The gas would be piped from other parts of the country to New England, which Kinder Morgan said will soon face a higher demand.
Other nearby towns that would be affected by the project include Reading, Wilmington and Tewksbury.
Why is the pipeline needed?
Kinder Morgan said natural gas production is increasing as the nation moves away from coal and nuclear power.
Fifty-two percent of electricity produced in New England comes from natural gas and that is expected to increase, according to Kinder Morgan.
The new pipeline is expected to increase capacity by 1.5 million households.
As of now, no customers have signed up to take advantage of the new pipeline yet.
What is the project timeline?
If Kinder Morgan goes through with the project, the timeline is expected to be:
- File for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) pre-filing in October 2014
- Kinder Morgan holds open houses with communities in November and December 2014
- FERC meetings in January-February 2015
- FERC filing in September 2015
- Anticipated approval in November 2016
- Proposed start of construction in January 2017
- Proposed in-service date in November 2018
So, if Kinder Morgan goes through with the plan, there will be years of federal and state review. FERC has the final call.
What do officials think?
Both state and local officials spoke out about the lack of communication from Kinder Morgan.
State Rep. Brad Jones said he asked Kinder Morgan to come to North Reading earlier to answer questions. The company did not, which means apprehension has developed into mistrust, said Jones.
Selectman Joe Foti said the project has not gotten off to a great start and that the company needs to rebuild a relationship with the neighbors, the Board of Selectmen and the new town administrator, who starts in August.
Selectmen Chairman Bob Mauceri said he finds it “inconceivable” that the company did not approach Town Hall first.
“I think you owe the community an apology for that,” said Mauceri.
State Sen. Bruce Tarr said FERC has a lot of power and suggested residents understand the FERC process and get active in the process.
“I can assure you that Representative Jones and I will bring the full power of the state to bear on this project,” Tarr told residents.
What do residents think?
Residents, especially those who live on and around Damon Street and Scotland Heights, spoke out in opposition to the project.
Kinder Morgan said they have surveyed about 40% of necessary abutters’ property.
Many of the residents at the meeting said they will not allow Kinder Morgan on their property to survey the land.
In addition to on-site surveying, the company is conducting aerial surveys as well as surveys done while driving along the route.
Neighbors to the proposed project have many concerns about the project including safety, what it would mean to property values and what construction would mean to their quality of life.
One resident, who is not a neighbor of the project, said this is not a NIMBY issue. The EE Little School would not be very far from a portion of the pipeline, which means if there is a problem, it could affect children going to that school, she said.
Mirroring the mood of his neighbors, Bill Monahan of Damon Street spoke of his opposition to the project.
“I urge everyone in this room as well as the town board that we all say no. If we all say no, maybe they’ll go away,” he said.
What about safety and pipeline leaks?
Kinder Morgan officials at the meeting said they have the safest safety record in the business after one resident ran through a list of leaks and incidents involving Kinder Morgan.
The official acknowledged that the industry isn’t perfect, but Kinder Morgan has the best record.
Kinder Morgan representatives said the company monitors the pipelines remotely. If there is an issue, the company can shut down that portion of the line and segregate that issue so it won’t impact the rest of the line.
What is town doing about the pipeline proposal?
Selectman Michael Prisco said the selectmen have given a letter to town counsel that Kinder Morgan sent to neighbors, which many felt was “threatening.”Prisco acknowledged North Reading officials do not have control over the process or project. The town is working on a fact sheet to provide to residents about the project.