FERC has issued a favorable draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) expansion, which would serve markets in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts with growing supplies of Appalachian gas.

“The project would involve the construction and operation of about 37.6 miles of natural gas pipeline and associated equipment and facilities in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts,” according to the DEIS. “The majority of the pipeline facilities (about 26.3 miles or 70% of the total 37.6 miles) would replace existing Algonquin pipelines, while the remainder of the pipeline facilities (about 11.3 miles or 30%) consists of new mainline pipeline, new loop pipeline, and one new lateral pipeline.”

The Spectra Energy pipeline also plans to modify six existing compressor stations, and 24 existing metering and regulating (M&R) stations, build three new M&R stations and remove one such station. It also would abandon four existing compressor units at one station in New York. Additional facilities would be modified or added as well.

“…[T]he purpose of the AIM Project is to expand [the] existing pipeline system from an interconnection at Ramapo, NY, to deliver up to 342,000 Dth/d of natural gas transportation service to the Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts markets,” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said.

The project targets local gas utilities in southern New England and also seeks to eliminate capacity constraints on existing pipelines in New York state and southern New England (see Daily GPI, July 1; Oct. 15, 2013). The AIM Project would “provide access to growing natural gas supply areas in the Northeast region to increase competition and reduce volatility in natural gas pricing in southern New England; and improve existing compressor station emissions through the replacement of existing compressor units with new, efficient units.”

In researching the project and its potential impacts, FERC staff found that the major issues relate to blasting impacts, water body crossings, wetlands, special status species, land use and recreation, traffic impacts, safety, and alternatives.

“We determined that construction and operation of the project would result in some adverse environmental impacts but most impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels,” FERC staff said. “This determination is based on a review of the information provided by Algonquin and further developed from environmental information requests; site visits; scoping; literature research; alternatives analyses; and contacts with federal, state, and local agencies, and other stakeholders.”