Natural Gas Representatives Share Latest Information on Infrastructure Projects Progressing in Connecticut and New England

Wrap Up: Natural Gas Infrastructure Project Updates: Transmission and LDCs
Courtyard Marriott Hotel, Cromwell, CT

On June 14, 2017, the Connecticut Power and Energy Society (CPES) hosted representatives from Connecticut-based gas utilities and an interstate pipeline company to provide an update on the natural gas expansion projects progressing in Connecticut and the larger New England region.  Gregg Therrien, Assistant Vice President of Concentric Energy Advisors and member of the CPES Board of Directors, moderated the panel discussion, which included remarks by:

  • Michael J. Dirrane, Director of Marketing, Enbridge
  • Erik Robie, Manager for Commercial Sales, Connecticut Natural Gas and The Southern Connecticut Gas Company
  • Chris Luca, Program Manager for Gas Expansion, Eversource

Michael Dirrane provided an update on the interstate pipeline expansion projects completed and advancing in New England. Enbridge, a leader in the gathering, transportation, processing and storage of natural gas, merged with Spectra Energy on March 1, 2017, creating one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America. Dirrane is responsible for managing the commercial relationships between Enbridge pipelines in the Northeast, including the Algonquin Gas Transmission (AGT) pipeline system, and gas utilities in the region. He said that natural gas supplies from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays have been a “game changer” for the industry since they came on line in the 2010 timeframe. Today, six billion cubic feet of natural gas per day is supplied by the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, and this gas, he said, is being transported all across the country. Dirrane provided an update on the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) and Atlantic Bridge expansion projects. The AIM project, completed in January 2017, expanded the pipeline capacity of the existing AGT pipeline system by roughly 342,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day. The Atlantic Bridge project, scheduled for completion in 2018, is designed to provide additional capacity on both the AGT and Maritimes & Northeast pipeline systems.
Erik Robie discussed the key role the 2013 Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES) has played in the expansion of the natural gas distribution system in Connecticut, calling it the “playbook” for gas utilities in the state. The CES, issued by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in February 2013, made several recommendations to advance to the state’s vision for a cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy future. One of the central goals of the 2013 CES, Robie explained, was to increase customer choice by providing residents and businesses greater access to natural gas. The 2013 CES, and its enabling legislation passed in 2014, established new rate and cost-recovery mechanisms, among other tools, to help move natural gas expansion projects forward in Connecticut. Since the 2013 CES was issued, Connecticut Natural Gas and The Southern Connecticut Gas Company have added 153 miles of new main and supplied more than 34,000 new customers with natural gas. Their goal is to install 180 miles of new main by the end of 2017.
Chris Luca underscored the importance of the 2013 CES in the expansion of the natural gas distribution system in Connecticut. Luca also discussed the importance of working with municipalities to minimize the costs associated with permitting, policing the construction site, and restoring the site to its original condition after installing new pipeline. Luca highlighted the Ansonia residential expansion project, one of three major gas expansion projects for Eversource in 2016. The project involved 4.25 miles of new pipe and provided access to natural gas for more than 294 residential properties. Eversource’s communications strategy with the municipality and residents was key to the project’s success, Luca said.           
All of the panelists’ presentations are available on the CPES website.