Access Northeast Gas Pipeline
|This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.|
The pipeline runs through Connecticut and Massachusetts.
- Operator: Enbridge
- Proposed capacity: 500 Million cubic feet per day
- Length: 125 replacement miles
- Status: Cancelled, June 2017
Enbridge along with project partners Eversource Energy and National Grid suspended the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) permitting process for the $3 billion Access Northeast Gas Pipeline in June 2017. It was first proposed by Spectra Energy Partners, which was later acquired by Enbridge for $28 billion. The FERC permitting process was initiated in November 2015 with the hopes of commissioning it by the end of 2018. The project would not have added additional pipeline, but would instead have upgraded 125 miles of the Algonquin pipeline system.
Enbridge had partnered with Eversource Energy and National Grid to advance the project through Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC. The pipeline would have connected four different pipeline systems: Texas Eastern Transmission (TETCO) Gas Pipeline, Algonquin Gas Transmission Pipeline, Iroquois Gas Pipeline, and Maritimes & Northeast Gas Pipeline.
Key State Decisions
Eversource backed out of construction for the Access Northeast pipeline after a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling prevented it from charging electric ratepayers for its construction.
In October 2016, Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection canceled its Request for Proposals for natural gas capacity, liquefied natural gas, and natural gas storage, which would have relied on the Access Northeast pipeline.
In October 2016, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission issued an Order disallowing Eversource from passing on pipeline costs to captive ratepayers.
In October 2017, the Environmental Defense Fund published a study arguing that the natural gas utility subsidiaries of Avangrid and Eversource artificially constrained gas pipeline capacity in New England for years, driving up natural gas and electricity prices by $3.6 billion over three years. A Utility Dive feature described the study's findings as follows:
A group of university researchers working with the Environmental Defense Fund found that local gas distribution utilities owned by the two holding companies regularly scheduled more gas than they needed on the Algonquin Pipeline in Connecticut and Massachusetts, only to cancel some of the orders later in the day — too late for the pipeline space to be resold. This practice, referred to as down-scheduling, “essentially locks up some pipeline capacity,” said Matthew Zaragoza-Watkins, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University and co-author of the report. On the worst days, including during the Polar Vortex of 2013-2014, up to 7% of Algonquin’s capacity could be artificially constrained.
The study raised questions regarding the need for additional pipeline infrastructure in New England, such as Access Northeast, given existing natural gas pipelines were under-utilized due to the utilities' market practices.
The Access Northeast was opposed in a number of local communities along its route, resulting in protest.
- Dozens of residents quietly protested the pipeline at the Board of Selectman's meeting in February 2017 in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
- There was "concerted opposition" in Attleboro and Rehoboth, where a compressor station would be located.
- Anti-Spectra protests were held in Weymouth, the New Bedford area, and around Greater Boston.
Articles and resources
- Access Northeast Gas Pipeline, Spectra Energy, accessed September 2017
- David Brooks, Regulators reject Eversource’s funding proposal for natural gas The Concord Monitor, October 8, 2016
- Bruce Mohl, Access Northeast pipeline put on indefinite hold Commonwealth Magazine, June 29, 2017
- Enbridge suspends Access Northeast natural gas pipeline plan, Mass Live, 29 Jun. 2017
- NH Regulators Veto Access Northeast Pipeline Contract, Marcellus Drilling News, 11 Oct. 2016
- [Eversource, Avangrid artificially constrained gas pipeline capacity for years, report argues,] Utility Dive, 11 Oct. 2017
- Connecticut Becomes Most Recent State to Back Away from Spectra's Access Northeast Pipeline Project, Desmog, 27 Oct. 2016
- Shrewsbury residents quietly protest proposed pipeline, Telegram, 28 Feb. 2017
- Pipeline advocates gird for battle, The Sun Chronicle, 20 Feb. 2017