June 11, 2018 / 9:00 PM / in 11 days

Eversource seeks to revive New England Access Northeast natgas pipe

(Reuters) - New England power company Eversource Energy said on Monday it would try to push the Access Northeast natural gas pipeline expansion in New England forward again, starting with New Hampshire.

Eversource notified New Hampshire regulators that the company would submit an updated proposal to replace its agreement to purchase capacity on the proposed Access Northeast expansion.

That decision came after the New Hampshire Supreme Court in May reversed the state Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) October 2016 decision that did not allow electric customers to pay for pipeline capacity on behalf of power generators.

The company that wanted to build the pipeline, Enbridge Inc, suspended development of the $3.2 billion Access Northeast project in the summer of 2017 because courts and regulators in New England were not willing to let electric customers pay for gas capacity on the 0.975-bcfd pipeline expansion that would be used by power generators.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in August 2016 also ruled against a similar plan to allow Massachusetts power companies to buy space on the pipeline expansion.

In states with competitive power markets, power generators usually do not sign long-term contracts for gas capacity, preferring to buy gas through short-term or spot contracts when needed.

Eversource said it would work with its Access Northeast partners, Enbridge and National Grid Plc, to propose a new pipeline expansion project.

Eversource spokesman Martin Murray said no timeframe was available for making such a new pipeline expansion proposal.

The Access Northeast partners filed a preliminary application to build the project with federal energy regulators in 2015. They had hoped to have the pipe in service by late 2018.

On the coldest winter day, New England burns about 4.5 bcfd and some analysts expect that amount to rise as the region becomes increasingly dependent on gas-fired power plants as more coal and nuclear units retire.

Maximum capacity of the five major gas pipelines into New England from New York and Canada total around 4.7 bcfd, while the region’s liquefied natural gas import terminals can supply another 2 bcfd.

Gas production in the Canadian Maritimes is expected to decline, which means New England may not receive either pipeline (0.833 bcfd) or LNG (1.2 bcfd) supplies from the Maritimes and may become a supplier of the fuel for heating to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on the coldest days.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Richard Chang

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