Businesses Turn Toward Gas
Lebanon — With natural gas now less expensive than other commonly used fossil fuels, more Upper Valley businesses are expected to make the switch.
In Lebanon, Fire Chief Christopoulos told the Planning Board last week that his main concern with more natural gas facilities moving into the city is the trucking and transportation of the material.
Christopoulos said Kleen Laundry’s liquefied natural gas facility required the material to be deodorized as it is transported through residential areas, meaning a leak would be hard to detect.
“Every time those trucks go through the community, if they had a leak, it would be very difficult to find,” he said.
As a condition of the facility’s permit with the fire department, Christopoulos said Kleen Laundry’s natural gas deliveries must not occur during the morning or evening commute hours, unless given a waiver by the department, which it has granted only once.
According to city records, Kleen Corp. chose to install a liquefied natural gas system for economic reasons, as it costs much less to operate than propane. Kleen Corp. officials did not return calls for comment.
Christopoulos said there is a similar concern over a compressed natural gas facility slated for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, which he said would require deliveries involving as many as five truck trips a day in the winter. He said a permit condition similar to one issued to Kleen Laundry will prohibit natural gas delivery during peak commuting hours.
Steve Cutter, director of engineering services at DHMC, said the medical center has been looking at alternative fuel choices, such as organic methane and biomass, for some time, but settled on compressed natural gas as a solution that made both financial and environmental sense.
He said the boiler house, which has a footprint of 1.5 acres, will be converted to burn compressed natural gas, as well as more traditional fuel on a back-up system.
“It’s a long-term sustainable fuel choice, we think, and the days of heavy oil are over,” said Cutter.
Plymouth State University announced this spring that it plans to convert its co-generation plant from diesel fuel to compressed natural gas as the primary campus fuel source this fall. Christopoulos said the fire department is prepared to handle more permit requests for natural gas facilities, which are widely expected to crop up more as economic incentives play into the plans of major employers in the Upper Valley.
“I’m not overly concerned with natural gas, other than transportation,” Christopoulos said. “It doesn’t create any more heartache for us.”