National Grid, Eversource to pull out of Access Northeast gas pipeline project
- Eversource Energy and National Grid have both pulled support for Spectra Energy's proposed Northeast Access pipeline, just a week after Massachusetts' highest court ruled utilities could not charge customers to develop the line.
- According to MassLive.com, four utilities—NSTAR, Western Massachusetts Electric, Massachusetts Electric and Nantucket Electric— also withdrew petitions to acquire capacity on the line, at the request of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
- An Eversource spokesperson said the company remains committed to developing infrastructure in the region. At peak delivery, the project was expected to provide enough gas for 5,000 MW of generation.
The fallout from last week's Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling was swift, with National Grid and Eversource pulling their highly-touted support for the project. While MassLive reports the companies say they remain committed to developing gas infrastructure, it is unclear what impact this will have on the Spectra-proposed project.
The Access Northeast Project would upgrade the existing Algonquin Gas Transmission system and add regional liquefied natural gas storage assets in New England. According to Spectra, the project would boost peak day deliveries, on the coldest winter day, up to 925,000 dekatherms per day of natural gas. But Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court has now blocked regulators from approving contracts requiring electric utility customers to support development of gas pipelines.
While the conventional wisdom has been that New England needs more gas, that's an assumption that AG Healey has questioned.
"Requiring electric ratepayers to pay for new natural gas pipeline capacity effectively shifts the risks associated with building these projects to ratepayers, contrary to the state’s policies of the past two decades," Healey said following the court's ruling. She has opposed customer support for the project, and last year, released a study that questioned the need for more capacity in the region.
The 1 Bcf expansion also calls for upgrading existing pipeline facilities and storage assets. But Healey has said the region's energy needs should be met with efficiency and demand response instead.
Follow Robert Walton on Twitter