Spectra’s Access Northeast Pipe Wins Important Approval in Maine

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In July 2014 Spectra Energy unveiled plans to deliver an extra 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to New England and beyond by expanding the existing Algonquin and Maritimes pipeline systems (see Spectra Energy to the Rescue! New England Pipeline Expansion). That project was eventually named the Access Northeast Project, a direct competitor to Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) project. In February of 2015 we observed and asked the question, is Spectra’s project pulling ahead of Kinder Morgan’s project (see Access Northeast Pipeline — Pulling Ahead of Kinder’s NED Project?). It was our observation at the time that Kinder Morgan’s project is mostly “greenfield”–meaning they have to dig new trenches and lay new pipe in places where no pipeline currently exists–was vehemently opposed by antis, while Spectra’s project which lays new loops of pipe next to existing pipes in existing trenches was opposed, but with less vehemence. It seems our observation was prescient, as Kinder later canceled its project (see NED is Dead – Kinder Morgan Suspends $3.3B New England Pipeline). Make no mistake, Spectra Energy still faces a steep uphill battle–but they are making progress. Evidence of that came yesterday when regulators in the state of Maine approved Spectra’s plan in their state. Or more accurately, they approved passing along some of the cost of Spectra’s proposed expansion to Maine electric rate payers, who would see far lower electric rates if the pipeline gets built (it will feed natgas-fired electric generating plants in the state)…

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