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Unitil proposes natural gas distribution line in Epping

Union Leader Correspondent

February 16. 2018 10:52PM
Unitil is proposing to extend a natural gas distribution line along routes 27 and 125 in Epping. (Courtesy)

EPPING — Unitil is proposing to bring natural gas service to Epping by extending a distribution line along Route 27 to the Route 125 corridor.

The Hampton-based electric and natural gas supplier plans to extend a current line on Route 27 that ends about a mile from the Epping town line in Brentwood.

The proposed line that’s designed to deliver gas to local homes and businesses would follow Route 27 west to Route 125, according to Tim Noonis, a senior business development executive at Unitil.

Noonis and other company representatives met with selectmen earlier this week to present the proposal that comes just a few weeks after Liberty Utilities outlined its plans for the “Granite Bridge” — a natural gas transmission line that would run along Route 101 between Stratham and Manchester with a large storage facility located in the area of Exit 6 off of Route 101 in Epping.

Liberty officials said their project is needed because the company’s pipeline, known as Concord Lateral, which provides natural gas to southern and central New Hampshire northward from Dracut, Mass., to Concord, has reached capacity. The new pipeline would link the Concord Lateral line to another existing pipeline in Stratham.

Liberty’s storage facility would feature a 170-foot high, 200-foot in diameter tank to hold up to 2 billion cubic feet of liquified natural gas.

The “Granite Bridge” project is still in the early stages with representatives currently meeting with officials from the various towns along the 27-mile route that will be affected.

Meanwhile, Unitil is expected to file paperwork with the Public Utilities Commission soon seeking rights to provide natural gas to customers in Epping. It would be the first time natural gas has been offered in town.

If the project gains all necessary permits and approvals, company officials said construction could begin in 2019 and be completed in 2020.

“Expanding into Epping just makes good sense for a ton of reasons for us. Aside from being an area that’s seen a lot of economic growth recently, our own gas system has been growing westward along 101 organically for years. Now that we’re a mile away, we’re excited to continue that growth into town,” said Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara.

Selectman Tom Dwyer said first responders would need some extra training to deal with natural gas since it would be new to the town.

Unitil has approximately 105,000 electric customers and 81,300 natural gas customers in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

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