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National Grid looking for non-pipe ways to get more gas in Northeast

National Grid USA is looking for ways to increase its gas access in the Northeast in the next winter without adding more large-scale pipelines and has put out a request for innovative proposals.

"National Grid is committed to transforming its natural gas networks with smarter, cleaner and more resilient energy solutions to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050," the company said in a Jan. 10 email to prospective bidders. "The company will evaluate and consider all offers from an experienced contractor that successfully demonstrate an ability to reduce the company's reliance on pipeline projects as early as the heating season commencing November 1, 2019."

The company in its request for proposals said it is considering doing more with renewable natural gas, which is derived from biological sources such as landfills or wastewater treatment, compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas. But the company also emphasized that it wants to hear about "other innovative supply-side proposals" that it does not know about yet.

National Grid utility subsidiaries — Brooklyn Union Gas Co., KeySpan Gas East Corp., Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., Boston Gas Co., Colonial Gas Co. and the Narragansett Electric Co. — operate in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. New England has not welcomed new interstate gas pipelines in recent years, posing a challenge for the region's gas customers, including power generators relying on gas.

Major pipeline companies have tried and failed to build out large-scale gas capacity to New England, largely dropping their attempts in recent years. For instance, Kinder Morgan Inc.'s Northeast Energy Direct project fell through without enough commercial support, and the Access Northeast project — proposed by Spectra Energy Partners LP, Eversource Energy and National Grid — failed after the project faced insurmountable hurdles to getting power generator support.

National Grid in its pitch noted that while it is interested in demand-side ways of addressing the gas supply-demand disparity, at this point the utility is interested only in options that would add incremental gas supply.

The company said it expects to choose multiple proposals, acknowledging that a single proposal is unlikely to be able to meet all demand needs.

Proposals are due March 4.