FERCstaff has found that SpectraEnergy Partners LP's proposed Atlantic Bridge natural gas pipelineexpansion, designed to improve gas flows into New England and Canada, would nothave a big impact on the environment.
In aMay 2 environmental assessment, FERC Office of Energy Projects staffrecommended that any commission order find "no significant impact"and carry typical mitigation measures. The U.S. EPA is a cooperating agency inthe project review.
Spectra-affiliatedcompanies Algonquin GasTransmission LLC and Maritimes& Northeast Pipeline LLC applied for the in October 2015. They estimatedthat it would cost about $500 million and be in service in November 2017.Spectra Energy Partners, majority owned by Spectra Energy Corp, owns Algonquin and the majority ofMaritimes, with the rest of Maritimes owned by and
FERCstaff declined to add Marcellus Shale production to the evaluation of theenvironmental impacts of the pipeline project, as some parties wished. "Theproject does not include the production of natural gas," staff said. "Similarto many past projects where this issue has been raised, the commission haspreviously determined that shale gas development is not caused by the proposedaction and is not reasonably foreseeable to be considered an indirect impactunder [the National Environmental Policy Act].
"Shaledevelopment, which is regulated by the states, continues to drive the need fortakeaway interstate pipeline capacity to allow the gas to reach markets. Therefore,companies are planning and building interstate transmission facilities inresponse to this new source of gas supply."
Staffalso declined to lump the Atlantic Bridge project together with Spectra'sAlgonquin Incremental Marketproject and AccessNortheast project, saying Atlantic Bridge "is an unconnectedsingle action that has independent utility." Staff rejected arguments thatit was improperly breaking up, or "segmenting," a larger gas project.
Algonquinand Maritimes are developing the Atlantic Bridge project based on commitmentsfrom shippers. The shippers include four local distribution companies, twomanufacturing companies and a municipal utility. Under precedent agreements,the project shippers have entitlements to about 40%, or 26,426 Dth/d, of thenew incremental capacity at delivery points on Algonquin's system inConnecticut and Massachusetts. The remaining 60%, or 79,705 Dth/d, would bedelivered to the Maritimes system at the Salem/Beverly interconnect inMassachusetts.
Maritimesreceived a presidential permit in July 2009 that allowed it to use cross-borderfacilities to import or export gas between the U.S. and Canada. Part of the gasmoving through Atlantic Bridge would be delivered into Canada on this pipeline,including the 79,705 Dth/d of Maritimes incremental capacity plus 26,574 Dth/dof existing capacity. About 14,500 Dth/d of the 106,276-Dth/d incremental totalwould be delivered to seven delivery points in Maine, and 91,776 Dth/d wouldcontinue into Canada. FERC staff was careful to point out that while there areproposals to export LNG from the U.S. and Canada, and despite onepossible reading of the project's name, Algonquin and Maritimes are notbuilding Atlantic Bridge to support export customers. The Canadian customersare industrial and commercial users not involved in the export of LNG.
TheAtlantic Bridge project would provide up to an additional 132,705 Dth/d of gastransportation capacity on the Algonquin and Maritimes systems. It wouldinclude four miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline to replace 26-inch pipeline inWestchester County, N.Y.; 2.3 miles of 42-inch pipeline to replace 26-inchpipeline in Fairfield County, Conn.; the new 7,700-horsepower Weymouthcompressor station in Norfolk County, Mass.; a new metering and regulatingstation in New London County, Conn.; modifications to three existing compressorstations in New York and Connecticut; and modifications to five metering andregulating stations and one regulator station in New York, Connecticut,Massachusetts and Maine. (CP16-9)