• ECHO Action Editor

Liberty Utilities sells hard, but residents say panels, not pipelines

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

ECHO Action was available outside the Granite Bridge open house at the Exeter Inn and offered a list of suggested questions for those attending the open house. On their way out, attendees shared comments made by various utility employees.

ECHO Action and community members asked questions at the Exeter Open House, questions. Specific claims made by a Liberty Utilities representatives include their initials.

Mike Licata (ML) is the Director of Government and Community Relations. He answered many questions from the public, most relating to pipeline safety.

Huck Montgomery (HM) is a lobbyist for Liberty Utilities who meets with and gives talking points to legislators, in support of Granite Bridge Pipeline.

Other Liberty Utilities representatives at the open house specialized in economic, technical and construction aspects of building the Granite Bridge Pipeline and the LNG tank. Diagrams and informational handouts were available.

There will be no fracking. (HM)

There will be no fracking in NH because we are the Granite State. Methane fracked gas comes from shale deposits in other regions where the gas will be fracked. Most of our gas comes from the Marcellus Shale deposit in PA, but may also come from other regions. It is fracked gas. Unless the gas is landfill methane only, gas suppliers cannot promise the gas is not fracked. It is commingled in the pipe from various sources. The majority of gas is fracked.

The fracking process uses toxic and trade secret chemicals that are devastating to the environment, air and water quality. Expanding methane/natural gas means more poisoning of water, air, food, people and wildlife in the fracking fields. People that live in the fracking fields are trying to ban fracking while the fossil fuel industry rushes to expand more pipelines to meet the glut of gas, rather than reduce extraction.

Those living in proximity to, in view of, or have contaminated water because of fracking wells cannot sell and move because the value of their homes and farms has been greatly diminished by fracking.

There will be no eminent domain. (HM)

There will be no taking of land using eminent domain. That does not mean private land is not impacted because those who have an easement agreement with the utility would have their land disrupted by construction of the pipeline.

There will be no radon emissions. (HM)

We are unclear as to how no radon emissions can be promised, especially since natural (fracked) gas contains radon.

• Is the natural gas in your home upping your radon risk?

New study raises possible link between gas drilling and radon levels

Liberty Utilities will pay for well testing before and after construction. (ML)

Wells can be impacted by drilling and trenching for the pipeline. Residents must be made aware of this and take advantage of offers to have their wells tested in advance of construction. They only get one chance to do this before drilling.

It's unclear at this time how many wells and what proximity to the drilling, they are offering this service for or whether they will require a water testing company of their choice.

• The disruption of bedrock can increase arsenic in well water.

50,000 N.H. Wells At Risk Of High Arsenic, Negative Health Impacts

What You Should Know About Arsenic & Your Well Water [Infographic]

There will be no tax breaks (HM) "No tax breaks" is vague. The meaning is unclear.

• In Bow NH, the community has been forced to repay money to Eversource.

• $175 million sale of power plants, including Merrimack Station, completed

• Bow loses Supreme Court appeal over value of former Eversource plant

The profit margin will be modest. (HM)

Profit margins are set by the NH Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The PUC is discerningly rigorous, oversight will be complete. (HM)

The PUC is rigorous, but they need input from community members. If you visit our page about sending comments to the PUC, you will find information about the role of the PUC and how to make comments on the docket. We strongly recommend that you comment NOW, while the PUC is deciding if the PUBLIC should pay for this pipeline and LNG tank. This is a critical time to be commenting to the PUC.

Liberty Utilities would be using a stronger plastic pipe than required. (ML)

Mr. Licata showed residents the size and thickness of the pipe and explained to them about high consequence areas (HCAs). Pipeline installers are allowed to use thinner pipelines where the population is less dense, but due to public concern, they plan to use thicker pipelines used in more populated areas.

Efforts to persuade residents to support Granite Bridge

Citizens in Granite Bridge towns say Mr. Montgomery tried to set up private meetings with Epping residents, seeking to shift their opposition to the pipeline and 170' high, 200' diameter liquefied natural gas (LNG) tank.

ECHO Action, Epping and Auburn residents were in the presences of Mr. Montgomery when he said that the tank is safe in the quarry where wouldn't be seen. Stephanie Scherr stated that the quarry is only 30 feet deep and the tank would be 170 feet high. Even in the summer when leaves would be on the trees, the tank would be very visible to those living anywhere near the tank and from route 101.

Mr. Montgomery talked over Ms. Scherr and anyone who was contrary to his talking points, insisting that he be able to speak. Any interjection was answered with, "don't interrupt me".

An Epping woman asked Huck Montgomery if his name is Southern. He replied that it is and then said, "it rhymes with another word that Pat Martin probably calls me". After the group's momentary stunned silence, Ms. Scherr said, "Pat doesn't talk like that".

A female Liberty Utilities representative at the open house agreed with an Epping man that the gas is for export. She also said, "the environmental impact is only temporary".

Another representative tried to convince a woman that solar was still too expensive for the average person, despite her telling him that if the utility went 100% renewable, she could convert to all electricity without getting solar on her home.

Several of Liberty's representatives promised distribution lines to homes though economically, it is highly unlikely, even if they wanted the gas.

Questions Asked

Why did Liberty Utilities fail to inspect pipelines and fail to report gas leaks?

We dropped the ball on this and were fined for it.

Where will the impurities and other gases that will be removed during the process of gas liquefaction go?

The removed gases will be burned as fuel at the LNG tank site.

NOTE: Previously, Mr. Montgomery claimed that the gas would go back into the pipeline and Mr. Licata said they didn’t know yet where the removed gases would go.

Residents from Granite Bridge communities that visited us before or after attending the open house, were overwhelmingly in favor of renewable energy rather than gas pipeline expansion and the LNG tank. They wanted to know why Liberty couldn't fund renewables instead.

Open house attendees asked Liberty Utilities representatives about expanding renewables and offshore wind, citing utilities and cities already shifting to 100% clean energy. Even in towns where Liberty is offering large payments to their towns, citizens want more solar and wind.

• Utilities have a problem: the public wants 100% renewable energy, and quick

Buffer utility to the first in U.S. to reach 100% renewable

• For a small Colorado utility, 100% renewable energy is old news

Liberty's representatives continue to call the utility a "green energy company" and natural (fracked) gas, a climate solution. Since methane is a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide, expanding the customer base that uses natural gas does not help climate change. In fact, it gets more customers hooked on fossil fuels and slows the transition to clean energy.

It seems Liberty Utilities is resisting renewables as much as the public is resisting fracked gas.

© 2020 ECHO Action: #FossilFree603  • •

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