• ECHO Action Editor

Could Liberty Utilities' Granite Bridge become the next NED pipeline?

Liberty Utilities has been aggressively seeking gas contracts throughout New Hampshire since before the Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline was withdrawn.

In Concord, they succeeded in shutting down a NH wood-sourced biofuel plant that could have been renovated at no cost to taxpayers. Assisted by legislators from both parties, Concord Steam was closed and fracked gas was pushed through.

They have approval for a temporary gas plant in Keene and are seeking permits for a permanent one. Could expansion to a larger plant be far behind?

Liberty is still pushing for natural gas in Hanover and Lebanon. Now the Granite Bridge Pipeline from Manchester to Stratham has been proposed with an LNG tank in Epping. Liberty Utilities wanted to fast track the project to approval in two months.

The NH Consumer Advocate suggested that all of these separate dockets at the NH Public Utilities Commission (PUC) should be one docket. This comment supports our feeling that these segmented projects are a ruse, a thinly veiled attempt to give the gift of gas to an unsuspecting public.

Should Liberty's projects be approved, it wouldn't take much to string them together, creating that elusive pipeline for export to the Maritimes. As Nova Scotia's gas supply dwindles, the demand for gas exports from the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale deposit increases.

How would that impact the promise of cheap fuel? Once exported to Canada, and then to European markets, the price of gas would increase. This covert plan would succeed in making New Hampshire the carbon corridor NED failed to be.

How do we avoid the unpredictability of gas prices, the endless construction, the web of pipelines that put health and safety at risk, the questionable promise of tax revenues for the towns that so eagerly lay themselves on the line? The answer is in renewable energy.

Renewable energy is homegrown. It offers sustainable local jobs and clean, abundant energy without the threat of air and water pollution associated with pipelines.

The popularity of solar has been steadily growing and the promise of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine means even more abundant clean energy and jobs.

Before we sell ourselves out to the highest bidder, a long hard look at the long-term impact and costs are in order. Who pays for the pipeline? The ratepayers. Not just the ratepayers along the pipeline route, but every one of Liberty's customers.

If the pipeline is no longer viable, the promised profits are revoked, but the ratepayers continue to pay for the pipeline (stranded costs) and a new source of energy. Before we leap, let's look, listen and consider real energy independence. Investments in energy effciency (using less energy) and renewable sources means the availability of safe, clean energy that the people profit from, rather than the utilities.

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Learn more about the Granite Bridge Pipeline & LNG tank, see photos and video of the Epping tank site and a comparable tank, view our interactive map route indicating the blast zone and learn about the health and safety impact of pipelines.

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