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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Beaver Brook in Hollis to propose alternate routes for natural gas pipeline

An engineering firm hired by the Beaver Brook Association will present maps showing three alternative routes for a natural gas pipeline, at least one of which goes through Brookline as well as Hollis.

The maps will be presented to selectmen in the two towns at meetings Monday. Public comments are not scheduled to be taken at the presentations, and no decisions will be made. ...

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An engineering firm hired by the Beaver Brook Association will present maps showing three alternative routes for a natural gas pipeline, at least one of which goes through Brookline as well as Hollis.

The maps will be presented to selectmen in the two towns at meetings Monday. Public comments are not scheduled to be taken at the presentations, and no decisions will be made.

The actual route for any pipeline won’t be decided until after a site evaluation process that will take a year or more, assuming the pipeline gets federal approval. Beaver Brook is presenting the map to widen the scope of discussion.

The maps concern a natural gas distribution line proposed by Kinder-Morgan, parent of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., as part of a major gas pipeline it has proposed across northern Massachusetts.

The distribution line, around 10 inches in diameter, would run north from the main line in Pepperell, Mass., to a Liberty Utilities facility on Route 101A in west Nashua.

The preliminary map released by Kinder-Morgan showed the distribution line running through Hollis, including a number of conservation areas owned by Beaver Brook. It also goes through conservation land in Pepperell. At a presentation in Hollis, a company spokesman said this was deliberate to reduce the number of landowners affected by the line.

The pipeline would be buried, but would require a roughly 50-foot-wide right of way that would be kept mowed and clear of structures.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline wants to build a 187-mile, 3-foot-diameter, buried pipeline to carry pressurized natural gas from shale fields in eastern New York to the Boston market, running across northern Massachusetts in a path roughly similar to state Route 2.

That line would end in Dracut, Mass., south of Hudson, where the gas would enter the existing distribution systems.

The project, now called Northeast Direct Energy Project, would include as many as a dozen offshoots to serve various customers, including the line to Nashua.

The proposal has drawn considerable opposition in the affected towns.

The idea of bringing more natural gas into New England is supported by all six governors, as well as industry and utility executives.

Shortages of natural gas during the winter, when it is needed both for heating and to fuel half the region’s electricity production, have led to near-brownouts and to soaring short-term energy prices.

Beaver Brook hired Tri-Mont Engineering Co., of Braintree, Mass., to develop alternate routes, arguing conservation easements on land shouldn’t be violated.

“In keeping with our belief that public and transportation rights of way and utility corridors should be considered as pipeline siting first, Tri-Mont assures us that each of these potential alternative routes avoids not only Beaver Brook conservation lands, but minimizes impact to all conservation lands in the area,” said a statement from the association released Thursday.

Beaver Brook will present at the Hollis Board of Selectmen’s meeting in the Community Room in Town Hall at 7 p.m. and at the Brookline Selectboard’s meeting in the Town Hall Meeting Room at 6:30 p.m. both on Monday .

The association said additional meetings with other communities have been requested or confirmed for the coming weeks.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).