Kittery EDC to look at Natural Gas expansion


KITTERY, Maine — Town officials are exploring the feasibility of bringing a natural gas pipeline from Route 236 into a greater portion of Kittery — and perhaps building a cogeneration plant that can provide electricity and heat to town residents.

The opportunity becomes possible because the Wastewater Treatment Department is expanding sewer lines underneath Interstate 95 in order to bring service to the Route 236 area. Town voters approved the $7.5 million expansion last June.

Hampton, N.H.-based Unitil Corp. currently provides limited natural gas service in Kittery. According to George Kathios, superintendent of sewer services, a gas line currently runs down Route 236, along Stevenson Road, Manson Road, Wilson Road and across Route 1, ending at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

“What we want to do is spur off from that section on Stevenson Road, and bring the line back through the fields and follow an old railroad bed” across Interstate 95 to Dennett Road, Kathios said.

The Economic Development Committee, newly revitalized after a period of dormancy, has been involved in discussions in part because it is interested in bringing natural gas to what is now an undeveloped industrial park there.

“There’s all sorts of opportunity here,” said EDC Chairman Gary Beers, including the possibility of making the industrial park viable. “What we’re saying is that the town should take a serious look at it.”

According to Kathios, the Wastewater Treatment Department is in the design phase of the sewer expansion project. This will require a “directional boring” under Interstate 95 to portions of Route 236.

He said the project opens up the possibility for Unitil to install a natural gas line at the same time. The design for the sewer line work would have to be modified to include the second line because they have to be a certain number of feet apart, he said. The Wastewater Treatment Department would need to know within six months if the design is going to change.

Beers said expanding natural gas lines to the Dennett Road area, or even farther into that area of Kittery, “could be great for the future of not only the town, but for residents. With the high cost of propane and heating oil, this is a clean, inexpensive alternative that we should explore.”

Kathios suggested the town not only consider approaching Unitil, but also consider building a cogeneration heat and electricity plant near the wastewater treatment plant, also on Dennett Road.

“We could do it in stages, but if we built a plant, it would compete with New Hampshire for cheap power and heat. I’d like to have heat and electricity at the plant, but it could be great for the whole town,” he said.

Revolution Energy and ecoCFO, both environmental finance and planning institutions, have sent a letter to the town saying they will produce a report on the feasibility of a cogeneration plant at a cost of $3,000.

Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff said no decision has been made to engage the companies’ services.

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