The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has denied a request by Weaver’s Cove Energy to dredge the Taunton River to a depth to accommodate liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers. Two rulings, one from the DEP’s Bureau of Resources Protection and another from the Wetlands and Waterways Program, reported that Weaver’s Cove submitted information and statements that were inconsistent with the U.S. Coast Guard’s findings that the Taunton River would not be suitable for LNG tanker traffic, according to the Providence (RI) Journal (see NGI, Dec. 17, 2007). Despite the rejection, Weaver’s Cove spokesman Jim Grasso last week said the company remains “fully committed” to building the LNG terminal that is proposed for Fall River, MA. He noted Weaver’s Cove, which is sponsored by Amerada Hess Corp. and an affiliate of Poten & Partners, will appeal the DEP decision. The Weaver’s Cove project, which FERC approved in mid-2005, has been the target of fierce opposition by local, state and federal officials, who are adamant against building LNG infrastructure in their backyard, although they admit more natural gas supply is needed for the region (see NGI, July 4, 2005). If built, ithe proposed terminal ould provide 800 MMcf/d of peak sendout capacity, 400 MMcf/d of baseload supply and 200,000 metric tons of LNG storage.

TransCanada’s proposal for a gasline to commercialize Alaska’s vast North Slope reserves depends upon the state’s three major producers “solving a maze of problems in Canada…and does not merit state support,” a former Alaska governor wrote in a recent newspaper editorial. The state should initiate a second round of applications under the state’s Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) process, and if that does not produce a “viable alternative” to the TransCanada proposal, “the state should build an all-Alaska gasline itself,” wrote Walter J. Hickel in an editorial published recently in the Anchorage Daily News. Hickel was Alaska’s governor from 1966 to 1968 and from 1990 to 1994 and served as U.S. secretary of the interior from 1969 to 1970. He joins another former governor in praising current Gov. Sarah Palin for bringing integrity to the gasline process, but also calling for the consideration of alternatives to TransCanada’s project, the only one to qualify for consideration under AGIA. In February former Gov. Steve Cowper told NGI that “it would probably serve some useful purpose for there to be a reconsideration of shipping North Slope gas across the top to the Mackenzie Pipeline. It would upset a lot of apple carts, but if we’re speaking about addressing incremental gas needs just in time, that would seem to be a lot easier done than this big bullet pipe” (see NGI, Feb. 25).

A final generic environmental impact statement for developing and implementing an Energy Portfolio Standard (EPS) — a key step toward New York’s goal of reducing electric usage by 15% of projected levels by 2015 and setting an energy efficiency goal for natural gas — has been accepted by the New York State Public Service Commission (PCS). When the PSC initiated the proceeding to design an electric and natural gas EPS last year, it noted that the 15% reduction target could not be met by commission action alone, or solely by ratepayer funding (see NGI, May 21, 2007). The PSC anticipated legislative actions to strengthen building codes and raise appliance efficiency standards; Long Island Power Authority and New York Power Authority contributions; and New York City and other municipal and local initiatives. The purpose of the proceeding is to design an EPS to meet the targets for energy efficiency which, along with additional renewable resource development and other programs, decrease New York’s dependence on fossil fuel-based generation and imported fuels, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, reduce customer bills, stimulate economic development and create jobs. A PCS staff report found that an EPS has the potential to reduce New York’s 2015 electric energy requirement by 27,400 GWh/year, which would correspond to a peak load reduction of 5,487 MW, allowing the state to avoid the need for approximately 6,390 MW of installed capacity. Initial studies also estimated that the gas saving could be 15,204 MDth and peak day load reductions at 100 MDth by 2016. The commission said New York’s electricity consumption is projected to increase approximately 1.3% per year through 2015. At current trends by 2015 electric energy usage in New York is estimated to be 13% higher than current levels.

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