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Just One More - How New England Would Benefit From a Gas Pipeline Expansion

New England is hell-bent on decarbonizing quickly, and it’s been making some progress. But like it or not, the region still depends heavily on natural gas for both power generation and space heating, and gas supplies are stretched to the limit during periods of extreme winter demand. Worse yet, the Everett LNG import terminal, which for years has fed a big, soon-to-close gas-fired power station and supported the Boston area’s gas grid, may be on the verge of shutting down. Well, help may finally be on the way. Enbridge recently proposed an expansion to its 3-Bcf/d Algonquin Gas Transmission pipeline system. The question is, can it get built in a region notorious for its opposition to energy infrastructure projects? In today’s RBN blog, we discuss Enbridge’s Project Maple and the role it could play in New England’s aggressive plan to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Hydrocarbon-related issues in New England have long been a favorite topic in the RBN blogosphere, and not just because they gave us an excuse to joke about Tom Brady, rabid Red Sox fans, and the region’s many quirks and eccentricities — the incomprehensible accents, the unnatural obsession with Dunkin' coffee and Subaru Outbacks, and the unusual practice of using folding chairs to save parking spaces after snowstorms. No, New England has been interesting to blog about also because of the irony that it’s so close to the Marcellus/Utica, one of the largest natural gas production areas in the world, and yet it can hardly pipe in enough gas to keep the lights on during long winter cold snaps.

We laid out the basics way back in 2014, in Please Come to Boston. There we explained that five pipeline systems provide the vast majority of New England’s gas: Algonquin Gas Transmission (AGT) and Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) from the south, Iroquois Gas Transmission from the west through upstate New York, and Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (MNP) along with Portland Natural Gas Transmission (PNGT) from Canada, through New Brunswick and Quebec, respectively. There’s also Constellation Energy’s Everett LNG import terminal near Boston, which has provided fuel for the company’s 1,400-MW Mystic power station (set to shut down in mid-2024) and gas to local distribution companies (LDCs), and Repsol’s Saint John LNG import terminal (formerly called Canaport) up in New Brunswick from which regasified LNG can be piped down MNP into New England.

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