Liberty Utilities' Keene Gas Plant and Pipeline
Graphic credit: Sue Durling, 2017
A FRACKED GAS PLANT? A NEW PIPELINE UNDER THE ASHUELOT RIVER?
LIBERTY UTILITIES IS MOVING IN ON NEW HAMPSHIRE, ONE REGION AT A TIME
Liberty Utilities has been exploiting opportunities to transition New Hampshire to "natural" fracked gas by going after one region at a time, eventually connecting the dots, creating a false demand and the need for an unnecessary pipeline.
In October of 2015, Jaffrey, Rindge, Swanzey, Winchester, Keene, Windham, Pelham, Lebanon and Hanover were announced as targets. Their goal for having a gas plant in Keene supports the plan to create a web throughout the state, regardless of need. They already have service in Manchester, Nashua, Concord and Berlin.
Liberty Utilities' plan is to install distribution pipes to supply LNG (liquified natural gas)/CNG (compressed natural gas) from a plant they're working to build in Lebanon. Concord Steam's former customers are being converted to natural (fracked gas) and Keene would be fed by a temporary and then permanent CNG plant. Once these plans go through, Liberty can then say they have the customers that Kinder Morgan was unable to produce and the NED pipeline now has the (false/created) demand they lacked that forced them to withdraw the pipeline on May 23rd, 2016.
Liberty Utilities, aided by legislators from both parties, procured a deal in Concord to spend $25M in taxpayer funds to force the closure of NH-sourced wood biofuel plant, Concord Steam. ECHO Action opposed the closure and loss of NH forestry jobs. Green City Power offered to spend $17M to renovate and upgrade the Concord Steam plant at no cost to taxpayers. They made their presentation public and estimated the real cost to taxpayers to be closer to $100M. Legislators refused to allow their presentation, responded to respectful citizen emails with demeaning comments meant to discourage opposition and told those testifying that they had their opportunity to speak and it was done.
State representatives were told that if they didn't approve the deal, they'd be cold next winter. Despite lobbying hard, challenging the questionable numbers used to justify the project, and strong voices in opposition including Representative Martha Fuller Clark, Democrats and Republicans voted in favor of the taxpayer-burden project.
To better understand the significance of what Liberty Utilities is doing statewide, the role lawmakers have in pushing gas in the state (such as forcing the closure of the Concord biofuel plant), and the overall plan behind this gas expansion, we strongly recommend that you visit our Clean Concord Steam page and while you're there, note the voting record. You'll see that veteran legislators guided members of both parties in pushing the project forward.
FRACKED GAS IS NOT CLEAN OR SAFE
We are not victims of the system unless we refuse to speak out and get involved. When we wait until the problem is literally in our own backyard, we give away the power of our citizenship, democracy and our right to be heard, allowing others to make decisions on our behalf, potentially giving permission to build pipelines that poison our air, water, food, putting our schools, churches and communities at great risk from toxic emissions, fires and explosions.
"Natural" fracked gas is methane, a very potent greenhouse gas that is colorless, odorless and toxic. Pipelines and gas plants emit and leak methane and have noisy "blow downs" that intentionally release gas. These gases can only be seen with a FLIR camera and are a health risk. To learn more, visit Pennsylvania's List of the Harmed.
When Kinder Morgan and Liberty Utilities were trying to line up more gas customers to justify the NED pipeline, Hinsdale NH and Vernon VT were considered for a fracked gas plant. Hinsdale now has a solar farm in the works. Vernon VT was receptive to the opportunity because of the closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant and loss of jobs. Keene's proximity to Hinsdale and Vernon make using previously proposed pipeline routes potentially viable for a large-scale pipeline infrastructure project that would bring gas from the fracking fields of Pennsylvania to Canada for export, using New Hampshire as a carbon corridor.
WE DON'T NEED THE GAS
Did you know that New Hampshire exports energy? We don't need the gas and it won't lower our electricity rates. We ask you to sign our petition to stop pipeline predators, which unites the state in protecting us from unneeded, unwanted energy infrastructure projects by moving to clean, renewable energy.
You can help right now by signing our petition!
JOIN US TODAY!
#DontGasTheGraniteState #NoPipelinePredators #FossilFree603 #WereNotKeeneOnGas
Thursday, June 15th, 5:30 & 7:00 PM
🔹KEENE GAS PLANT VIGIL
5:30 PM - Rain or shine, outside Keene City Hall and at Central Square beginning at 5:30. Bring large signs. Messaging suggestions are listed below. Invite friends! It's fun, come be social!
🔹CITY COUNCIL MEETING & VOTE
7:00 PM - Keene City Hall, 2nd floor
Follow Main Street to the light at the second circle. You have to LOOK for Keene City Hall. It's right next to Luca's market. Take the railed steps and enter.
Our events are always nonviolent, drug-free, weapon-free and of course, fossil free!
• ECHO Action NH: #FossilFree603 Environmental Justice Network
• NH Pipeline Resistance: Stop Kinder Morgan / No Keene Gas Plant
• Post Oil Solutions
• Roaring Brook Nonviolent Direct Action Affinity Group
• 99th Monkee Affinity Group
- - - - - - - - - -
5/7/17 Gas Plant plan approved by the Keene Municipal Services,
Facilities & Infrastructure Committee (no public commenting)
- - - - - - - - - -
5/22/17 Liberty Utilities hearing at Keene Planning Board
LIBERTY UTILITIES GAS PLANT PROPOSAL
- 16 acre site
- Propane air to natural gas
- Plugging lower cost
- Less moving parts / less liability
- "No street names for security reasons" ?!? (Many mentions of security)
- Proposing CNG on outskirts of the town
PETER WALKER, Environmental Scientist
- Site at end of Production Ave
- City right of way, to close part of the street
- 2002 permanent facility approved
- Part of site will be deeded from city for a turn around
- Locate temporary CNG skid/shipping container to offload, warm gas
- Feed to Monadnock Marketplace
- Security fence & lighting, 8 feet high.
- Requested conditional use permit
- 30 for setback to wetlands. No way to construct it without impact
262 Sq ft grading slope on the wetland buffer
- Existing sewer & water line. Sewer line cut & capped. Water shut off.
- Ranger Curran will allow tractor trailer turn around via easement.
- 8 inch has mail pipe to has skid
- Permanent facility being pursued.
- No lighting spill over property border
- Cul de sac will be turned over to the applicant- Small pavement turn around
- Silt fencing during winter due to snow
- A portion of the parcel is in the 100 year flood plain, but requires no permit, no problems anticipated
- Noise: 50-60 decibels at skid, meets noise ordinance.
- 50% lighting 10pm-6am except when there is a delivery during those hours, then 100%.
- 2-3 tanker trucks and service van per day during winter months.
- HazMat: Applicants says only concern is gas, if leaks, lighter than air, no problem
- 12.7 acres on site. 30 foot buffer impacted. 262 feet. Requesting conditional use permit. May 15th went to ConCom. Concern for cumulative bottom land loss.
- Someone at the ConCom meeting said the land is quality habitat for yellow warblers.
- Approve application & conditional use
- For permanent, must reapply & get wetland permit from DES.
- 18 months (2 winters)
- No time frame for use ending
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
- During temporary gas plant phase they work on permitting the permanent gas plant
- Temporary gas is specifically for Monadnock Marketplace. Permanent gas would include the City of Keene.
- Where will the permanent site be?
- LU says "maybe" there could be expansion
- Jeff Scott (Chesterfield)
- Geoff Daly (Nashua)
- Pam Clark (Westmoreland)
- Stephanie Scherr (Fitzwilliam)
- Chris Balch (Wilton)
- Sue Durling (Winchester, did not speak)
- Terri O'Rourke (Richmond, did not speak)
The board reiterated several times that the topics being brought up by citizens were not related to the Planning Board's 19 points they have to address, beyond their scope. They were asked if any other option had been considered. A long wait. No response whatsoever.
Related Keene News
Liberty Utilities is planning more than a plant (Keene Sentinel) Letter to the Editor by Pat Martin 5/22/17
Vermont Gas Plant Project on Hold (Valley News) 4/22/16
Liberty Utilities seeks to expand natural gas service (Union Leader) 10/15/15
Keene Gas Expansion News
Liberty Utilities is planning more than a [gas] plant (Pat Martin, Keene Sentinel)
Hearings scheduled for proposed Keene gas line after concerns raised (Keene Sentinel)
Keene Planning Board needs a 'benefit to the community' standard (Chris Balch, Letter to the Editor) 5/23/17
Proposed natural gas facility in Keene gets go-ahead (Keene Sentinel) 5/23/17
Liberty Utilities is planning more than a [gas] plant (Pat Martin, Letter to the Editor) 5/19/17
Liberty Utilities seeking city approval for temporary natural gas plant in Keene (Keene Sentinel) 5/15/17
Liberty Utilities plans new natural gas plant in Keene (Keene Sentinel) 1/2/17
Hassan calls for investigation into Keene gas scare (WMUR) 12/21/15
Keene gas emergency coming to an end (Keene Sentinel) 12/19/15
Letter to the Editor, Keene Sentinel 5/22/17
Released on this site on 5/19/17
On Monday night, Keene's Planning Board will hear Liberty Utility’s plan to construct a temporary CNG/LNG decompression plant on Production Avenue.
I understand that the Propane/Air system is decades old and should be updated. If you're a Liberty customer, having the utility invest in upgrading the lines and feeder plant makes sense.
The difficult truth though is that when Liberty builds that final permanent plant, it will also be there for decades. To me, it is capitulation.
Keene has been a leader in sustainability. Keene uses biodiesel for its fleets. Keene uses methane from landfills to heat its buildings. The College heats with 100% cleaned vegetable oil for a large share of its campus.
Why shouldn't Keene join Hanover in committing to being 100% fossil free by 2050?
I encourage people to visit the Efficiency Maine website and use their fuel comparison calculator. It is very likely that an air source heat pump will be a better long term choice for heating than natural gas. In all other regions of the United States, the EIA reports that use of natural gas for heating has fallen in favor of heat pumps. Only the Northeast is using more natural gas.
And here’s the sad truth…
Liberty is working to justify a pipeline. It is expanding service in Lebanon, Pelham, Keene and Concord. In a letter to the PUC, Liberty asked for an extension on filing its Least Cost Integrated Resource Plan because it's going to be announcing a "new source of supply or capacity." They were given an extension until August.
Of course, even with all the increase in demand that Liberty hopes to show, the number of customers it has in New Hampshire will never cover the cost of a pipeline. Berkshire Gas is doing something very similar in Western Mass. I predict that the capacity of the pipeline will be justified by export contracts and the “need” by critical shortages in Liberty (and Berkshire Gas) territories.
The PUC has issued an order on Liberty’s latest rate case. In the rate case, Liberty petitions to make Keene an official part of Liberty. A consequence of that is that distribution rates in Keene will drop about $10 per month for the average household and go up about the same amount for its other customers. The price of the actual gas is separate from the distribution charges. The PUC’s order presses the pause button on the rate change and calls for public hearings.
From a financial angle, this looks like a “win” for Keene, but is it? Do you think gas prices will stay low when LNG exports take off? Keene is brimming with smart people who believe we need to move to a clean energy economy. I hope they are paying attention.
Patricia A. Martin
IMPORTANT PETITIONS: Please sign and share.
Kinder Morgan and Liberty Utilities,
we'll pass on the gas. #NoKeeneGasPlant
KEENE has a climate action plan, a climate adaptation plan, a state-of-the-art recycling facility, a food co-op and a reputation for being savvy decision makers. A gas plant and pipeline are out-of-sync with wise community planning. Please join us in sending a message to the Mayor of Keene.
No Pipelines. No Northern Pass.
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