Natural gas facility could be built in Somerset

(WPRI/ Madeleine Wright)

SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) — It’s been five years since a controversial plan to construct a liquefied natural gas terminal along the Taunton River was abandoned.

Somerset, which was staunchly opposed to that proposal, could now be in the mix for another LNG facility, Eyewitness News has learned.

An area near Walker Street in Somerset could soon be the home to two giant storage tanks full of liquefied natural gas. A Texas-based energy company, Spectra, is proposing to build there after the original proposal to build in Acushnet hit a road block.

“I think if this project actually happens, it’s going to be well-vetted, it will be safe, and it will be a great project for the community,” said Richard Brown, a Somerset Town Administrator.

Brown said that if the storage tanks come to Somerset, Spectra would pay the town somewhere around $10 million to host the facility in lieu of taxes.

“That’s a significant amount of money and represents almost a replacement for the kinds of monies we lost as the activities at Brayton Point Power Plant diminished over the years,” Brown said.

“I really hope the residents of Somerset can get over the monetary revenue they think this will bring and realize all the negative impacts it will bring to their community,” Wendy Graca of South Coast Neighbors United said in opposition.

Graca said she wants more investments in renewable energy and not fossil fuels.

“Between emissions and leaking methane and contribution to climate change, and there’s no amount of money that’s worth your children’s future,” she said.

According to Brown, the proposal to build in Acushnet would affect more wetlands than the company originally anticipated. Wetlands are a protected habitat for many species.

The Acushnet fire chief said Somerset is just one of 30 alternate locations for the natural gas storage facility. He said the other 29 locations should come out in a public report Spectra is releasing on July 22.

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