Compressor station sited in New Ipswich

Last modified: 6/3/2015 7:08:55 PM
NEW IPSWICH — On the heels of an announcement by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Inc. that it will build an 80,000-horsepower compressor station at 40 Skinny Cat Road, more than 50 residents — a tenfold increase for a regularly scheduled board meeting — pushed Select Board members off the fence.

George Lawrence, Woody Meiszner and Becky Doyle voted unanimously to oppose the pipeline — a step they have avoided since October 2014, when the Northeast Energy Direct project first proposed traveling through the region. Compressor stations, which are situated at regular intervals along the route, push the natural gas along the pipeline.

Kinder Morgan has proposed the pipeline project, which is expected to carry between 1.2 and 2.2 billion cubic feet of Marcellus Shale natural gas per day from Wright, New York, to Dracut, Massachusetts, cutting through southern New Hampshire along the way. TGP is a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan.

TGP announced Monday that it is under an option to purchase agreement for 40 Skinny Cat Road, and that the 292-acre lot would be the site of a compressor station. The property, which was listed at $895,000 by Traditions Village Realty LLC, has been for sale for more than a year, according to David Duponte, the managing member of the Massachusetts-based company.

The siting of the compressor station is the next step for TGP in a filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has final approval of the pipeline and its facilities. TGP is expected to complete its filing in September, when FERC will begin its approval process. There are nine compressor stations proposed along the 430-mile route, with New Ipswich the site for Hillsborough County. Residents have raised concerns about the compressor’s environmental impacts.

“I have huge goosebumps,” said Lisa Oden of New Ipswich, one of dozens of pipeline opponents who filled the town office meeting room where the Select Board meets weekly. Speaking of the board’s decision to oppose the pipeline she said, “We needed this, and we needed it now.”

The meeting room was packed, with people standing around the edges of the room or sitting on the floor, and a line of people waiting in the hallway to cycle in to hear the proceedings.

Community reaction

For Sebastian and Rebecca Barthelmess, who live at 424 Temple Road, in close proximity to Skinny Cat Road, said the prospect of living near a compressor station is devastating. Fourteen years ago, the Barthelmesses fell in love with the quiet, serene nature of the area. “While driving on Temple Road, I looked over at my husband and said, ‘If there is any land for sale on this road I want it,’” she said. Now, said Sebastian, if a compressor station is built in their neighborhood, they will moving out of the area and the home they’ve raised their three sons in.

“As much as it breaks out hearts,” said Sebastian, “We would have to leave.”

Sebastian, who works from a home office, said he’s concerned about the noise levels, the potential health impacts from fumes, and the integrity of his private well.

It’s not only New Ipswich residents that are concerned. John Kieley of Temple, a former selectman and current member of an ad-hoc pipeline advisory committee, attended New Ipswich’s Select Board meeting. Though Temple is not on the proposed route, the proposed compressor station would be near the Temple border, and the half-mile buffer zone around the compressor station would impact Temple residents. It’s also less than a mile from the Temple Elementary School, which doubles as the town’s shelter in emergencies.

“It’s got us very concerned,” said Kieley in an interview after Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s disheartening to see it actualized in that way. We’re very sad,” said Beverly Edwards of Temple, another member of the advisory committee, on hearing that the compressor station will be located on the Temple border. “It’s tremendously problematic and it’s very concerning.”

Temple will be holding an informational session about the compressor station at Temple Elementary School on June 11 at 7 p.m. for community members from Temple, Mason, New Ipswich and Greenville.

Town to help fund lawyer

The board also agreed to join with other members of the New Hampshire Municipal Pipeline Coalition in hiring a lawyer to represent towns impacted by the NED project.

When the board questioned where the town’s financial contribution for the lawyer would come from, a flurry of volunteers raised their hands, calling out donations. And during a brief recess of the board, community members wrote checks or offered cash, which was collected by a member of the town’s pipeline opposition group, New Ipswich Pipeline Resistance, to deposit into an account already established for that purpose — a total of $1,815, to add to the $400 previously collected.

Kinder Morgan responds

Richard Wheatley, the director of corporate communications for Kinder Morgan and a representative of Tennessee Gas Pipeline, said in an interview Wednesday that compressor stations are built to the most modern standards, and designed to direct light downward, dampen noise and are sited in places with wide buffers.

“Safety is our top priority, and we take into consideration the proximity of schools, hospitals, senior living centers, churches, etcetera, when considering siting pipelines and compressor stations and related facilities,” said Wheatley. “Also, we plan noise studies in relation to the final compressor site as the permit process continues. This will give us more information about sound effects and any needed noise buffering and where to place the facility.”

More specific designs of the compressor stations, including a final horsepower estimate based on the ultimate size and capacity of the proposed pipeline, will be included in the next draft of Kinder Morgan’s environmental report, expected to be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in July.


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