By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. — A 2.2-mile stretch of natural-gas pipeline is in the works for Little Compton and Tiverton. And there’s not much in the way of preventing it from being built.
The project, called the G-2 System Loop, is one of a series of expansions, extensions and new pipelines planned across southern New England. All of which are part a regional movement, with broad political support, to meet existing and future demand for natural gas.
Here’s what’s known about the G-2 System Loop project:
This new section of pipeline will carry natural gas from a larger pipeline that runs from New Jersey to Boston, known as the Algonquin pipeline. In Little Compton, most of the pipeline runs through farmland and open space before it meets the Sakonnet River. From there, the pipeline travels underwater to a facility in Middletown.
A new 12-inch-diameter pipeline will run parallel to an existing 6-inch natural-gas pipeline. The two pipelines will lie about 15 feet apart. Both will be underground.
The pipeline will not offer natural gas to residents in Little Compton. The original pipeline was installed in 1952.
Some land will be taken temporarily during construction, and other land will be acquired permanently. The owner of the pipeline, Houston-based Spectra Energy, is granted the power of eminent domain through the Natural Gas Act of 1938. Spectra is privately negotiating land use and acquisition deals with land owners.
No structures will be moved or taken during construction.
The project must gain approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), but approval is expected. FERC will accept public comment on the project soon. However, there are no plans for a question-and-answer meeting with Spectra or FERC.
Construction is targeted to begin in early 2017.
The cost of the project hasn’t been disclosed, but Spectra said it has 20 potential buyers of the natural gas to pay the project cost. Those buyers are power plants, large companies and other large energy users. They include utility companies like National Grid that can pass on the cost for the pipeline to ratepayers.
A spokesman for Spectra insisted that none of the buyers are natural-gas exporters. However, Spectra is seeking approval to reverse the flow of one of its pipelines that would send natural gas to a port in Nova Scotia.
During a March 23 informational meeting at Town Hall, some residents expressed concern that the new pipeline would be a health hazard and reduce property values.
The existing pipeline runs through the backyard of Richard Gomez’s home on West Main Road. The new pipeline, he said, would be within 50 feet of his house. He worries that a leak from the pipeline or a leak in his home would be catastrophic.
“What do you see once a week in the news?” he said. “A (natural gas) explosion. I don’t want it in my backyard.”
Spectra insists its pipelines are well maintained and inspected at least once a week through ground surveys or aerial inspections.
“Our records show that natural gas leaks rarely occur on our pipelines,” Spectra states in a report on operational safety.