By Chelsea Feinstein
LOWELL -- Residents in Pepperell, Townsend and Ashby have been approached by representatives of a company hoping to survey land for the potential construction of a natural gas pipeline through the region.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company is considering an expansion involving 250 miles of pipeline for natural gas transport through parts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York, according to company representative Richard Wheatley.
Wheatley said that the company has not yet chosen a route or sought a permit, but is simply in the process of surveying land. The route that is being considered runs along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border, before dipping further south into New York.
"This is a project that is only under consideration at this point. We are still in an active review of potential customers and shippers. In order to move forward, we have to have committed contractual agreements with customers and shippers who would actually move the natural gas on the pipeline," Wheatley said.
"We have not selected any routes, which is why surveyors are making contact with landowners to get more details on properties and other details that might help us determine what routes are best," he said.
If the project is pursued and approved, the pipeline would be in service by November 2018, Wheatley said.
Ashby Town Administrator Bob Hanson called the process "extremely preliminary."
"The normal course of events is that once the route is decided upon, they then have to deal with individual property owners in terms of easements and compensation," Hanson said.
Hanson said that worrying about the project at this point is premature.
"Right now they're not doing any digging, just looking. If they find problems then those problems will have to be addressed," Hanson said.
Pepperell Town Administrator John Moak said that what little he knows about the project has come from homeowners, who have been approached by the company, coming in to Town Hall.
The company was planning to make a presentation at an upcoming Board of Selectmen meeting, but has canceled the meeting, saying that it is too early to make a public presentation on the project, Moak said.
In the meantime, Moak said he is working on getting more information about the project to post on the town's website.
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