Spectra, NU announce New England gas pipeline expansion

Spectra Energy Corp., Spectra Energy Partners, and Northeast Utilities (NU) plan to build the 1-bcfd Access Northeast natural gas pipeline expansion project, designed to increase gas supplies to New England. Spectra says the project will enhance the Algonquin and Maritimes pipeline systems, using existing routes. The companies expect Access Northeast to enter service November 2018. Spectra Energy and NU will be equal partners in the project, with the option of additional partners joining.

NU says that over the past 15 years, natural gas-fired generation has grown from serving 15% of New England’s annual electric requirements to serving about half. The expansion includes:

• Scalable expansion of existing pipeline infrastructure, attached to roughly 60% of Independent System Operator—New England’s natural gas generation capacity.

• Partnering with existing regional storage assets to provide firm services to electric power plants with guaranteed natural gas supplies on peak days and to enable rapid response to sudden changes in power output.

• Additional Algonquin and Maritimes delivery points for local distribution companies.

The companies describe Access Northeast as a compliment to Spectra’s previously announced Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) (OGJ Online, Sept. 26, 2013) and Atlantic Bridge projects. AIM will begin to debottleneck the pipeline system by first-quarter 2017, underpinned by long-term commitments from southern New England gas utility companies. Atlantic Bridge’s proposed in-service date is November 2017, and it will be similarly supported by gas utilities, according to Spectra, delivering 100 MMcfd to more than 600 MMcfd depending on market commitments.

Access Northeast will cost roughly $3 billion.

Contact Christopher E. Smith at chriss@ogjonline.com.

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