Energy industry giant Kinder Morgan is setting its sights on Schoharie and Albany counties for a pipeline expansion project.
The Texas company is exploring a 250-mile-long pipeline route to extend its existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline that serves parts of New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut. The extension is in the conceptual stage, and the company is gauging interest on the market, Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard N. Wheatley said Friday.
A draft map of the proposed route depicts the pipeline originating from the Wright Compressor Station in Schoharie County, which is the focus of expansion for another pipeline proposal already under review by the federal government.
Operated by Iroquois Gas Transmission, the Wright Compressor Station also serves as a transfer point for gas delivered by Tennessee Gas Pipeline, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Inc.
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline expansion, as envisioned, would travel southeast Wright through Albany County, then beneath the Hudson River and into Rensselaer and Columbia counties before crossing into Massachusetts.
Another company, Constitution Pipeline LLC., applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last year to build a 30-inch natural gas pipeline along a 124-mile path from northeastern Pennsylvania to the Wright station. That $683 million proposal remains under review.
According to Wheatley, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline expansion is being considered to “help meet increasing demand for clean, efficient natural gas in the Northeast.”
It’s too early to estimate how much the construction project would cost. Wheatley said the capacity needs of customers and gas suppliers has to be taken into account before capital expenditures can be estimated.
The existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline originates in Louisiana and transports gas from the Gulf of Mexico, southern Texas and Louisiana to Northeast markets, including Boston and New York City.
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline upgrade proposal represents one of several energy-related developments affecting New York’s Capital Region, and they’re generating interest among organizations dedicated to the environment. Environmental Advocates of New York Director Peter Iwanowicz said proposals to expand pipelines come at a time when the oil industry is seeking additional ways to transport burgeoning energy supplies, including by rail.
Continued growth of this type, Iwanowicz said, brings up questions about New York’s state’s push to reduce greenhouse gases.
“Do we really need to build more natural gas transmission lines if we have a goal of reducing greenhouse gasses,” Iwanowicz said. “At some point we have to basically say no.”
The Constitution Pipeline proposal led to the creation of a local group — Stop The Pipeline — based in Delaware County. Stop the Pipeline founder Anne Marie Garti said the new proposal has generated a lot of interest among the group’s membership.
Garti said she believes the Kinder Morgan proposal depends on the Constitution Pipeline, which, if approved, would carry gas being extracted from the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania. The Marcellus formation extends into much of New York state, but there’s a hydrofracturing moratorium in effect as the state studies the drilling technique.
Garti said she suspects there’s a “master plan” under which the oil and gas industries will develop sites in the Northeast to export products to other countries.
“What they’ll do is, they’ll build an export facility up in Maine. They want to get this gas out of the country so that they can get a higher price,” Garti said.
Garti said pipeline construction projects present huge impacts to communities and their landscapes, and she said people should expect to see more as the energy industry continues to draw more product out of the ground.
“This is the new reality. It’s not going away,” Garti said.
Wheatley said if responses from buyers are positive and the project progresses, the company hopes to put the line into service in 2018.