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Enbridge halts Access Northeast pipeline

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World Pipelines,

Eversource and National Grid are shelving a US$3.2 billion natural gas pipeline project known as Access Northeast until they can find a way to pay for it.

Their partner in the project, pipeline operator Enbridge Inc., notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last Thursday of the decision to withdraw the application for the project. Enbridge informed FERC that it will halt development of the pipeline proposal, which aimed to move more natural gas into the Northeast, citing an inability to pay for the project. The project, an expansion of the existing Algonquin Gas Transmission system, could have increased gas capacity in the region by up to 925 000 dth/d. Last year in August, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that electric utilities could not charge customers to develop the line. That led project backers like Eversource Energy and National Grid to drop their support.

At peak delivery, the project was expected to provide enough gas for 5000 MW of generation.

Brian McKerlie, a Vice President at Enbridge, told press that the company still wants to develop Northeast Access but first needs to lay the groundwork. “Once we work through the legislative [support], we’ll be able to reengage the FERC filing process and be back on track,” he told the newspaper.

It is the second large pipeline to face financing issues in the region. Last year, Kinder Morgan abandoned plans for its Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, a US$5 billion project designed to move Marcellus Shale gas into the northeast. Company officials cited "insufficient contractual commitments" from customers in the New England market.

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