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April 03. 2013 8:01PM

Pembroke site targeted for natural gas filling station

PEMBROKE - A natural gas filling station that would serve tractor-trailers and provide gas to northern New England factories is in the works for Pembroke.

A California energy company in going through the town's approval process for the project.

Running through about 4 acres of Cooperative Way is a part of the Tennessee pipeline, an interstate natural gas pipeline. Clean Energy plans to purchase the land from Associated Grocers of New England and install a natural gas filling station for tractor-trailers there.

"We pay whatever the market costs for natural gas is out of the pipeline," said Clean Energy's Eastern Region Vice President Mark Riley. "The benefit is that the cost to the facility is less because you don't have the distribution charges from the local utility. We pretty much just pay the market gas cost."

The completion of the fill station is anticipated for September or October. Several pumps would be situated under a canopy, but no gas or convenience station will be located at the site.

Beyond the filling station, however, the location will also truck its fuel to factories in northern New England.

"The really unique thing about this particular project is that it will make natural gas accessible to industrial and manufacturing facilities in New Hampshire that currently don't have natural gas service," Riley said. "So it's going to impact competitiveness and economic growth and all these things that are really important and tangible benefits to the state."

The filling site will be operated by Clean Energy. NG Advantage, a Vermont-based company that distributes natural gas to facilities not connected to a pipeline, will be responsible for trucking fuel to other locations.

According to Riley, this kind of enterprise had not been on Clean Energy's radar.

"It really wasn't an area of focus in Clean Energy, but we had begun discussions with NG Advantage, and it was an area where they were interested in having an additional compression facility," Riley said. "And it kind of lined up that there was a property in Pembroke that just so happened to have a sizable fleet across the street at Associated Grocers. So it was kind of a coming together of a number of factors and situations that were unique."

As the project is within the aquifer conservation district, a special-use permit is required. A special zoning exemption will also be required, given that the town's zoning ordinances, not anticipating natural gas compression stations during their drafting, do not account for such a facility.

On March 26, Clean Energy made its pitch the the Pembroke Planning Board. The company is expected to apply for a zoning exemption by Friday, which will then come before the zoning board on April 29. It hopes to schedule a meeting before the planning board again in May.

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