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Natural gas station proposed to open this fall in Pembroke

A California natural gas company is pursuing plans to build a filling station in Pembroke, that would serve tractor trailers and send natural gas to factories in northern New England.

Clean Energy, which has an office in Concord, appeared before the Pembroke Planning Board last Tuesday, and it is expected to submit an application for a zoning exemption by Friday, to appear before the zoning board April 29.

The northern tip of an interstate natural gas pipeline runs through the 4 acres on Cooperative Way that the company plans to purchase from Associated Grocers of New England.

By fall, company officials hope, the site will be a working fill station for vehicles that use compressed natural gas and for tractor trailers to truck fuel to factories in northern New England. Clean Energy will operate the site, and Vermont-based NG Advantage will truck the fuel to other locations,” said Mark Riley, eastern region vice president for Clean Energy.

“We have not been looking for a project like this, it was an opportunity that was brought to us, and we were intrigued by it,” Riley said. “We’re more focused on fleet vehicle fueling, but this was an opportunity to not only fuel vehicles but provide fuel for trucking to sites that need it, as well.”

The 4-acre site will have approximately an acre of impervious pavement and a canopy covering the filling stations, according to papers filed with the town’s Technical Design and Review Committee.

“Basically, it will look like a big gas station, but we’re not going to have a convenience store or bathrooms,” Riley said. “There will be a nice canopy, but most of the development space is to allow proper circulation for tractor trailers. They need room to move around, to turn.”

Riley wouldn’t put a number on the company’s potential financial investment in the project, but he said they hope to be operational by September or October.

The next step is a visit with the town zoning board. The filing deadline for a place on the April 29 meeting agenda is Friday.

There are at least three compressed natural gas fueling stations in New Hampshire already: two used for government vehicles, on Stickney Avenue in Concord and at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and a public station in Nashua, according to Clean Energy’s proposal.

The Pembroke project needs a special use permit for working within the aquifer conservation district, and a special exemption because the zoning ordinances don’t include any references to this type of facility, as no natural gas compressing stations were anticipated when the ordinances were written, Town Administrator David Jodoin said.

If the project is approved, he may study whether natural gas is a more efficient or less expensive fuel for town-owned vehicles, he said.

At a publicly accessible Clean Energy station in Boston, compressed natural gas cost about $2.50 per gallon last Friday, Riley said.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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