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Algonquin Expansion Critical to Tapping Shale Gas for Connecticut

Connecticut business interests have registered their support for an Algonquin Gas Transmission expansion project to carry an additional 342,000 Dth/d of gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales through New York and into southern New England.

Connecticut's competitiveness with respect to other states is challenged by the fact that "our state is located near the end of the pipeline when it comes to obtaining traditional energy sources such as oil and natural gas," the Connecticut Business & Industry Association said in a filing at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [PF13-16] recently.

"We are disadvantaged...with respect to our ability to provide clean and affordable natural gas to our homes and businesses relative to neighboring and other Northeast states," the group said in urging approval of Algonquin's $500 million plan, which is in the pre-filing stage at FERC, to add 25.6 miles of pipe and other facilities along various segments of the existing mainline, which include 1.2 miles of new pipeline to be installed beneath the Hudson River.

Earlier this year, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law the General Assembly's 10-year comprehensive energy strategy (see Daily GPI, July 11), which commits the state to significantly increasing its access to natural gas as an overall plan for economic development, environmental progress and energy independence.

"Unfortunately, Connecticut's and New England's interstate pipelines are already fully subscribed. Without significant interstate pipeline capacity expansion projects like AIM [Algonquin Incremental Market Project], Connecticut and New England will continue to experience competitiveness issues with respect to energy costs and will be unable to take advantage of the enormous opportunities provided by the extensive production from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations," the association said.

"These natural gas opportunities...provide for a seismic transformation of the energy economics throughout the Northeast."

The original plan was to provide more than 500,000 Dth/d capacity but, "much to the [Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection's (DEP)] disappointment, during the open season, insufficient firm contracts were obtained for the latter amount," said the DEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty.

A number of other parties, including the Sierra Club, Clean Air Council, New York State Sen. Terry Tipson (41st District), New York State Assemblywoman Sandra R. Galef and the Westchester County Board of Legislators -- have filed asking FERC to extend the comment period on the project by either 30 or 60 days. The comment period closed Oct. 14.

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