Tennessee Gas responds to criticisms

For the Gazette
Published: 3/25/2016 3:19:15 AM

After months of reviewing formal comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from various agencies and organizations raising concerns about its proposed Northeast Energy Direct project, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. this week responded to the regulatory agency with a 42-page set of counterarguments.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline rebuts contentions made by numerous filers that it has not demonstrated a need for the $5.2 billion project telling regulators, it “has significant support from dedicated shippers and is needed to lower natural gas and electric prices caused by pipeline constraints in the Northeast.”

The company, which is proposing the 416-mile gas pipeline that would pass through Plainfield in Hampshire County and eight Franklin County towns, addressed “statements made in recent Motions to Intervene, Protests, Comments, Motion for Stay, and Motion for Summary Disposition” from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Massachusetts attorney general’s office, Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast, Conservation Law Foundation and a group of Northfield, Deerfield and Plainfield intervenors seeking to sue to have the pipeline project halted.

“Tennessee is providing (the federal commission) with the following additional information to correct the record regarding statements made in certain Interventions,” states the motion, offering to respond to any of the commission’s requests for data as it continues its review of the project.

It claims to have agreements executed representing 751,650 dekatherms per day of “firm transportation capacity” on the project’s Pennsylvania-to-Wright, New York, “supply side” and 552,262th per day of commitments for “market path” passing through Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

“Tennessee is currently marketing the available capacity and is confident that it will be able to secure additional contractual commitments” as the result of initiatives in five of the six New England states allowing electric utilities to contract for pipeline capacity and recover their costs in their rates, it states.

It responds to a study commissioned by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey last fall. That study contends that New England is unlikely to face electricity reliability issues in the next 15 years and that energy efficiency and “demand-response” mechanisms can better provide for energy needs than building new gas pipelines.

“Even a cursory examination of the Massachusetts AG Study shows that its conclusions and recommendations are not grounded on sound analysis,” according to Tennessee Gas. It contends that the study was limited in its scope by examining the reliability and cost only for electric customers and that it “ignored for the most part any consideration of how additional natural gas pipeline capacity would help lower high electricity costs for ratepayers.”

Tennessee Gas concludes, “The Massachusetts AG Study falls far short of providing a comprehensive view of the state’s energy needs and offering a candid appraisal of what it will take to alleviate the state’s high energy costs, comply with the Global Warming Solution Act, and provide grid reliability by ensuring there is sufficient natural gas capacity to power gas generators, as well as meet the needs of the LDC market.”

The company, similarly, dismisses as based on “untested assumptions” a study by the Conservation Law Foundation, which said that any large pipeline solution to the region’s winter energy constraints would not be cost effective because of under-utilization at other times of the year.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline also rejects calls by a number of intervenors, including the foundation, that have called on the federal commission to analyze the comprehensive effects of the panoply of projects planned for the Northeast together with its Northeast Energy Direct project: Spectra’s Access Northeast Project and the Atlantic Bridge Project, along with recently approved Agonquin’s Incremental Market Project, Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s Connecticut Expansion Project and the Constitution Pipeline.

“The Commission is not required to prepare a region-wide programmatic (Environmental Impact Statement) for pending pipeline projects, nor would such a study be helpful in assessing the NED Project’s environmental impacts,” the company argues, while also suggesting that such a comprehensive review would not help the federal commission’s decision-making process.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline also calls on the commission to deny the opposition by Northeast Energy Solutions — a legal coalition of a variety of conservation groups, including Franklin Land Trust — of an intervention by Irving Oil Terminals Operations, which it says plans to export liquefied natural gas at a proposed terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick.

And the pipeline company rejects a call by the Franklin Regional COG for an evidentiary hearing on the project as “not necessary.”

Tennessee Gas states that the federal commission “has explained that setting a matter for hearing is appropriate only in proceedings presenting disputed issues of material fact that cannot be resolved on the basis of the written record. … ‘Mere allegations of disputed facts are insufficient to mandate a hearing.’”

In its January filing, the COG claimed, “Given the sharp controversy over whether the NED Project is actually needed, and in light of the pipeline’s long-term impacts on landowners and ratepayers and potential consequences for regional energy choices, if the commission is inclined to approve the pipeline, a formal hearing is required to resolve the factual dispute over the need for the NED Project.”

The COG claimed that the federal commission “must hold a hearing where there are material issues of disputed fact inappropriate for resolution based on paper submissions — and can expect reversal on appeal for failure to do so.”

Finally, the company calls for denying a motion by a group of Franklin County residents seeking to halt and summarily dismiss the project’s formal proceeding before regulators.

The petitioners — Holly and Gordon Lovelace of Northfield; Eric and Carolyn Ness of Deerfield; Kelly and Michael Paulsen of Plainfield, Woolman Hill Inc., and Meg Worcester of Deerfield — “fail to meet the Commission’s high burden for granting a stay, or even simply to justify their request,” argues the company.

On the Web:
1.usa.gov/1q4Ahrr


 




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