Stung by intense local opposition to a proposed natural gas pipeline winding through western and central Massachusetts, a Houston energy company said Friday that it will pursue an alternative route that bypasses many Massachusetts communities by veering north and shooting across southern New Hampshire.
Kinder Morgan Inc. said much of the alternative path would follow existing rights-of-way along utility lines in the two states, meaning it would cross fewer residential properties and undeveloped lands. Kinder Morgan plans to file the new route on Monday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has final say on gas pipelines in New England.
Kinder Morgan officials said that 14 Massachusetts towns along the northern tier of the state, from Dracut to Northfield will no longer be in the pipeline’s path. But the pipeline would cross four new Massachusetts towns: Cheshire, Hancock, Lanesborough, and Shelburne, and a southern stretch of New Hampshire.
To meet the region’s growing demand for natural gas, Kinder Morgan previously sought to build a 127-mile pipeline stretching from Richmond near the New York border across Massachusetts’ northern spine to a transmission hub in Dracut, about 30 miles from Boston. Kinder Morgan’s original multibillion-dollar plan aimed to tap abundant, inexpensive natural gas from Eastern shale fields to help ease a shortage here blamed on inadequate pipeline capacity.