- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (AP) - A Houston energy company executive told a Connecticut business group that a regional natural gas pipeline would keep businesses from moving to states where energy is cheaper.

Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs at Kinder Morgan, pitched the idea Friday before nearly 250 business owners and representatives at a meeting of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

“Companies have, as you well know, feet. And they can go somewhere else,” he said. “The more we can do to promote and encourage energy infrastructure development is a good thing for the economy.”

New England is plagued by high energy costs because of pipeline bottlenecks and the region’s governors said last week they will pursue a mix of regional and state actions to cut energy costs.

In contrast to a “common misconception” that pipelines look like the Alaskan pipeline - aboveground and snaking across pristine areas - natural gas pipelines are underground and known to visitors only because of a marker, Fore said.

The Northeast Energy Direct line is one of about 20 pipeline projects being proposed in the Northeast, where it’s come up against some opposition over environmental and scenic concerns, fears of reduced property values and the belief that relying solely on natural gas delays a move renewable sources such as wind or solar.

“I understand there’s a lot of folks who don’t like energy infrastructure and think tomorrow we can go to renewables,” he said.

Kinder-Morgan sees natural gas as “bridge energy” to the future.

“But that bridge isn’t tomorrow. That bridge is 20 or 25 years away,” Fore said.

If businesses can leave in search of cheaper energy, homeowners are “stuck in places where they have to pay their energy bills and making choices about daily life based upon their inability to pay natural gas bills,” Fore said. “Or they have fuel oil they can’t get off of it.”

The earliest the pipeline could be in service is November 2018. “That’s an optimistic schedule,” Fore said. The project requires federal approval and Kinder Morgan also is working with Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania.

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Follow Stephen Singer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SteveSinger10

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