Liberty Utilities has abandoned its proposed Granite Bridge project and plans to seek an alternative to the pipeline, which would have followed Route 101 to bring natural gas from Exeter to Manchester.
The utility now hopes the Public Utilities Commission approves a filing for a 20-year contract for capacity on an existing pipeline known as Concord Lateral. That proposal would eliminate more than one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions while enabling more customers to receive gas service, according to the company.
Liberty Utility proposed the Granite Bridge project in 2017 during a natural gas capacity shortfall in New Hampshire. It would have linked to existing gas pipelines and included a storage tank in Epping. The project was opposed by several environmental groups and politicians.
“When we originally filed Granite Bridge, the capacity was not available,” said Emily Burnett, a spokeswoman for Liberty Utilities. At the end of 2019, another company did not renew a contract to use a portion of the Concord Lateral pipeline.
“We’re always looking for the cheapest option available for our customers. This was flagged for us,” Burnett said.
Liberty Utilities provides natural gas service to a growing customer base of more than 96,000 homes and businesses in 35 New Hampshire communities, including the cities of Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Laconia, Franklin and surrounding towns. The company struggled to meet the demand with more than about 1,000 customers a year signing up for gas service.
“Making sure natural gas is available for customers who want it is critical not only for New Hampshire’s economy and for families’ pocketbooks, but also to enable the deepest, fastest, and most achievable pathway for decarbonizing our economy and taking action on climate change,” said Sue Fleck, president of Liberty-New Hampshire, in a statement.
One group, 350NH, has fought the project for the past three years.
“I personally am really happy that Liberty Utilities pulled the plug on the project because now I am not going to have a fracked methane gas pipeline running through my town of Raymond,” said Jennifer Dube, pipeline resistance organizer for 350NH. “There is not going to be a giant LNG storage tank in Epping.”
She got word via text and phone calls Friday afternoon while at work. The key to the new proposal is that it doesn’t expand fossil fuel infrastructure, she said.