Kinder Morgan, parent company of Tennessee Gas, is exploring the possibility of running a natural gas pipeline from the Schoharie County town of Wright to Massachusetts, a company spokesman said Wednesday.
“We are currently assessing market interest,” said Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley. “Customer and shipper commitments are required before a project such as this might move forward.”
The new pipeline, he said, would run alongside existing pipelines “where possible,” said Wheatley. Some landowners have already been approached about potential agreements for easement rights, he said.
While the potential project would begin at the natural gas compressor station in Wright, it would be separate and distinct from the proposed Constitution Pipeline, which would stretch from Susquehanna County, Pa., to the same approximate location, industry representatives said.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Wheatley said, transports natural gas supplies for customers and shippers who contractually agree to move natural gas via its pipelines. The firm does not own the gas, he said..
An “open season” - designed to elicit interest among potential customers and shippers that would use the pipeline -- was posted on February 13, Wheatley said.
Christopher Stockton, a spokesman for the Constitution Pipeline and an employee of Williams Partners, the lead investor in that project, said the Kinder Morgan project appears to be in response to a call from New England governors last month to have their states work in unison to get more natural gas pipelines built.
“Energy prices have skyrocketed in New England because of constraints brought on by lack of gas pipeline capacity,” Stockton said
Though the Constitution Pipeline would interconnect to the Tennessee and the Iroquois Gas pipelines, Williams would not be part of the Kinder Morgan project, he said.
“However,” he added, “interstate transmission pipelines like Constitution Pipeline, Tennessee Pipeline and Iroquois Pipeline, are what is known as “open-access” providers, meaning that any natural gas shipper can freely move their gas from one pipeline to another through pipeline interconnections.”
The Constitution Pipeline proposal has received a frosty reception from many landowners along the route in Schoharie County, as well as from some elected officials. That project as well as the Kinder Morgan proposal, these critics say, could turn Wright into a hub for the natural gas industry.
Schoharie Town Supervisor Gene Milone said he is opposed to both projects, arguing they would create a significant risk to public safety.
“I have a real problem with our governor (Andrew Cuomo) not taking a position on hydrofracking,” said Milone, who, like Cuomo, is a Democrat. He suggested the indecision has paved the way for the gas industry to eye upstate New York for an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in pipeline infrastructure.
State officials have said they are waiting for state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to complete a review of the impacts hydrofracking could have on public health before arriving at a final decision on whether to permit the controversial gas drilling technique. Shah said recently has no estimated completion date for his work.