Learn About Access Northeast
Get information about the Access Northeast project, why the project is needed for the region and other frequently asked questions.
About Access Northeast
- Why is this project important?
A lack of sufficient energy infrastructure in the region is driving electricity prices higher, limiting economic competitiveness and growth, and straining systems to the point where serious energy reliability issues threaten public safety and security. Over the past 15 years, natural gas-fired generation has grown from serving 15 percent of New England’s annual electric requirements to serving approximately half. At the same time, tens of thousands of New England homes and businesses have converted to natural gas heating, while pipeline capacity into the region has not grown. Last winter, New England wholesale electricity costs were nearly double compared with the previous year, largely due to pipeline constraints.
Access Northeast is in direct response to numerous requests from regional stakeholders and governmental agencies in New England for an environmentally responsible, scalable, efficient and effective pipeline project to meet the growth in natural gas consumption that New England has experienced and will continue to experience over the next decade, while keeping energy prices at competitive levels.
Access Northeast’s collaborative solution achieves all of these objectives by providing access to low-cost supply diversity, while minimizing community and environmental impacts through the enhancement of existing infrastructure.
Once Access Northeast is operational, it is projected to save electric customers an average of $1 billion a year during normal weather conditions and even more during severe cold weather, according to an ICF International study, which estimated that savings during the extreme 2013-2014 winter could have been $2.5 billion with Access Northeast in service.
- What is the timeline of this project?
In early November 2015, we filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to initiate the Pre-file review process, and we will file our FERC 7c application in 2016. We would expect to receive and accept the FERC certificate in 2018. Access Northeast will be implemented in phases. The initial phase is projected to be placed into service during the fourth quarter of 2018. It’s important to note that the expansion on Algonquin existing facilities will be within existing rights-of-way while having minimal environmental and community impact. Achieving this schedule requires regulators, and state and federal policy makers to act expeditiously.
- What is the expected cost?
Access Northeast is estimated to cost approximately $3.2 billion.
- How much additional natural gas will this provide?
Access Northeast will be capable of reliably delivering up to one billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to serve the region’s most efficient power plants and meet increasing demand from heating customers.
- What is Algonquin proposing as part of the Access Northeast project?
The Access Northeast project includes the expansion of approximately 125 miles of the existing Algonquin pipeline system. Algonquin connects directly to 60 percent of the regions gas-fired electric generation along its existing corridors.
The project also includes the construction of two new liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tanks, liquefaction and vaporization facilities in Acushnet, Massachusetts on the existing Eversource property adjacent to two existing LNG storage tanks. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is an important resource in the winter season because stored LNG may be readily converted into vaporized natural gas and delivered into the existing pipeline system. This phase of the project also includes an extension of the Algonquin interstate pipeline to the Eversource property.
- How much of this expansion will be on existing infrastructure versus new construction?
Virtually all of Access Northeast will take place on existing pipelines on existing rights-of-ways.
- How does this accommodate renewable energy?
Renewable energy is a very important part of the New England landscape. Access Northeast will support renewable energy development by enabling rapid response to sudden changes in power output with regional storage facilities and quick-start natural gas-fueled power generation.
- What is the project path?
The project path is flexible depending on where customers are located and what their specific needs are. Suggested receipt points would be on the west end of the Algonquin system and delivery points can be customized based on customer location and need.
- How will this impact the AIM & Atlantic Bridge projects?
Access Northeast is independent from the previously announced Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) and Atlantic Bridge projects. AIM and Atlantic Bridge are separate and independent projects. Spectra Energy Partners’ AIM expansion project began to de-bottleneck the pipeline system in Janurary 2017, helping to enhance reliability and reduce natural gas price volatility in New England. AIM is underpinned by long-term commitments from gas utility companies across southern New England. Atlantic Bridge’s proposed in-service date is November 2017, and it is supported by gas utilities and industrial companies.
- Could merchant gas generation in New England operate, even on the coldest winter days?
We estimate it will supply enough natural gas to supply 5,000 MW of efficient natural gas generation, which is very considerable, but it does not represent all merchant gas generation in New England. Additionally, while the majority of New England’s natural gas generation is connected to Access Northeast, some is not.
- What regulatory approvals are required?
Approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is required for the siting of the pipeline expansion, as well as, the contracts entered into between Access Northeast and its customers. In addition, state level approvals will be required with respect to electric distribution companies’ (EDCs) participation.