WAKEFIELD — The company planning a significant natural gas pipeline cutting through northern Massachusetts and hooking up to an existing transmission line near Camp Curtis Guild has signed a deal with a group representing unionized construction workers.
The Massachusetts Building Trade Council announced this morning that a Memorandum of Understanding with Kinder Morgan requires the firm to use union labor at all construction sites in Massachusetts. The council said the project will create thousands of jobs.
The proposed $5 billion pipeline would follow a route from New York into western Massachusetts for 63 miles, then turn north and continue for 70 miles in southern New Hampshire before re-entering Massachusetts and ending in Dracut. A secondary 28-inch line would come through North Reading and head south into Reading and Lynnfield on the Wakefield line.
Supporters of the pipeline say it will expand natural gas supplies in the region. Critics say the project could cause environmental harm and slow investment in renewable energy sources.
The revised 30-inch pipeline route passes through 17 towns in Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin counties before entering New Hampshire where it cuts through 16 towns in Cheshire and Hillsborough counties before ending in Dracut. One hundred percent of the route in Massachusetts, according to officials, is designed to run along already existing utility right of ways that currently carry things like high tension power lines. In the utility industry this is known as co-location.
“We’ve heard, we’ve listened and we’re resetting the process of identify a route that is primarily co-located throughout the eastern part of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” said Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan.
Kinder Morgan officials said that they are still in the early outreach and permitting phase of their project. January 2017 is the planned start date while November 2018 is their goal for having the pipeline in service. The pipeline company plans to deliver their proposal to regulators on Monday and conduct more public meetings on the revised project.
An additional 75 miles of pipeline loops are planned for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut.
The pipeline will transport additional natural gas from the Marcellus shale located in southern New York and northern Pennsylvania to New England and the Canadian Maritimes.
Curtis Cole, director of business development at Kinder Morgan, said that this new pipeline will increase supply of natural gas to the region and ultimately lower the cost for consumers. Cole said that some power companies are eying the region for possible new power plants that could create an additional 2,00 megawatts of power.
“Right now New England has the highest energy costs in North America,” said Cole.
The project has faced public opposition in communities across Massachusetts since it was first proposed. Governor Charlie Baker, U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren have all expressed their opposition to the plan. Several Western Massachusetts legislators have also voiced their opposition to the pipeline.
Former Gov. Deval Patrick is a supporter of natural gas though he is mixed on the project due to its possible affects on green spaces.
Kinder Morgan said that their rerouted and revised pipeline plan now avoids environmentally sensitive areas in Massachusetts known as Article 97 properties. Towns and cities that the pipeline is planned for have expressed opposition on their own and it’s something Kinder Morgan officials said they are sensitive to.
“When a town votes against the pipeline we take that into account and we listen. We’re not removing the proposed route from Massachusetts but what we’re trying to do is address the concerns that the towns and other stakeholders have in the process,” said Fore.
The revised project is projected to generate 3,000 union construction jobs and $25 million in annual property tax revenues for the cities and towns it runs through. Kinder Morgan has signed project labor agreements with the laborers and other local unions for construction of the pipeline.
— The Associated Press and other sources contributed to this report.