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Pipeline Developer Eyes New Ipswich For Compressor Station

Kinder Morgan
A map submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows the properties where the proposed compressor station would go.

In a filing with federal regulators, natural gas pipeline developer Kinder Morgan says it has chosen a location for a major natural gas compressor station in New Hampshire.

If the Texas-based company gets its druthers, the building will be in New Ipswich, near the borders with the towns of Temple and Greenville. It would contain engines to push the flow of natural gas along the pipeline at up to 80,000 horsepower. During construction Kinder Morgan says it would need 20 acres of land, but upon completion the building would occupy 10 acres.

The proposal is part of Kinder Morgan's  Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, which the company has pitched as a way to ease winter-time spikes in natural gas and electricity prices. The pipeline would stretch from Pennsylvania to Dracut, Mass., including more than 70 miles along the southern border of New Hampshire. The proposal has sparked outcry in many of the communities it passes through.

Woody Meiszner, a selectman in New Ipswich, says people in town have known for months that Kinder Morgan had obtained options to buy properties along the pipeline route.

“We have received a petition requesting the selectmen to oppose the pipeline that has been signed by over 800 residents of the community,” says Meiszner. The selectboard voted to oppose the project on Tuesday night.

Meiszner says that people in the town have a number of concerns – including safety, the disruption caused during construction, and odors released by the station – but he says he is most worried about noise pollution.

“They have a whistle to them that if you were close to them, it could be distressful after a while, because they run all the time,” says Meiszner, who has visited other compressor stations.

Federal standards dictate that upon completion the noise level for neighbors should be no greater than 55 decibels: slightly quieter than the sound of a nearby air conditioner

According to the company’s filing, 77 residences in New Ipswich and neighboring towns are within a half-mile of the property boundary for the proposed station, but the property itself is 165 acres of unoccupied land.

The site consists of two properties: a smaller one owned by a family trust, and a 125 acre property owned by a holding company that had planned to develop the site as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. The planned rehab center has been on hold since the financial crisis of 2008. Part of the site is listed as a “brownfield” because it had been previously used as a shooting range and is suspected to be contaminated with lead.

Meiszner, who has visited the site, says it is quite isolated. “If you’re going to select a spot here in New Ipswich, it’s probably as good as any,” he says, "Maybe good’s not the right word… least worst.”

The compressor station is one of nine along the proposed pipelines route that would push gas through the system. There are four more proposed for New York, three in Massachusetts, and one in Pennsylvania.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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