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Massachusetts Wants Environmental Review of Atlantic Bridge

Regulators in Massachusetts have asked FERC to conduct an environmental review of Spectra Energy Corp.'s Atlantic Bridge Project, arguing that the cumulative impacts of the project -- especially from a new compressor station to be built in Weymouth, MA -- warrant such a review.

In a letter Monday, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), a nine-member panel that licenses energy infrastructure in the state, told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that either an environmental impact study (EIS) or an environmental assessment (EA) should be performed for the project [CP16-9].

Spectra units Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC and Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline LLC (M&NE) filed an application with FERC for the Atlantic Bridge Project in October (see Daily GPIOct. 23). FERC issued Algonquin an abbreviated application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity on Nov. 5 and a supplemental notice of intent on Nov. 19. The latter set a Dec. 21 deadline for all environmental comments over the application.

One of the main sticking points is a 7,700-hp gas-fired compressor at Weymouth. EFSB told FERC that after it reviewed Algonquin's application from October, the board determined that "some of its comments were either not addressed adequately or at all" by the commission.

EFSB added that Algonquin has proposed adding additional compressor units at the same site in Weymouth for a separate project, Access Northeast. Access, a partnership between Spectra (40%), Eversource Energy (40%) and National Grid (20%), would provide 900,000 Dth/d to power plants by upgrading existing pipelines and utilizing local gas storage facilities (see Daily GPI, Feb. 19). FERC approved Algonquin's request to use a pre-filing review process for Access on Nov. 17.

"In reviewing the application in this docket, EFSB staff notes that the cumulative impact analysis is lacking in quantitative data," the board said, adding that Algonquin said work on the Weymouth compressor station lies within the scope of both projects. "Given the submission of the pre-filing request [for Access Northeast], it is appropriate that [Algonquin] include a robust, quantitative description and analysis of cumulative impacts that the Atlantic Bridge and Access Northeast projects would have on air quality, noise, surface water, visual impacts and traffic in the surrounding communities.

"Furthermore, the application does not identify measures that would be implemented to minimize these impacts."

Atlantic Bridge would enable Algonquin to provide 132,705 Dth/d of firm capacity from its receipt points at Mahwah, NJ, and Ramapo, NY, to new and existing points on the Algonquin system, including an interconnection with M&NE at Beverly, MA. The project also would allow M&NE to provide 106,276 Dth/d of firm capacity from Beverly to existing delivery points on its system for project shippers. The project is expected to be in service by the second half of 2017.

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