The proposed pipeline path runs through hundreds of private properties and through some of the state’s most sensitive ecosystems and would be paid for through new tariffs on our electric bills.
We have been researching the need for this pipeline (or lack thereof), environmental and economic impacts and presenting across the state since February and are constantly updating and filling out with new findings.
Burden of Proof
The case against the proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) fracked gas pipeline
Prepared by: Michael Feldstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kathy Kessler (email@example.com), with support from Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) and No Fracked Gas in Mass.
» Burden of Proof
Questioning the Need for Northeast Energy Direct
Prepared by: Dracut/Tyngsboro Pipeline Awareness Group
The Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal would add up to 2.200 BCF (billion cubic feet per day) of capacity according to company documents. This is over 15 times the expected rate of growth in gas system demand.
» Questioning the Need for Northeast Energy Direct
Demand Is Not What It Seems
Studies commissioned by NESCOE showed that if current levels of state energy efficiency programs continue, there is no need for additional natural gas infrastructure even with economic growth taken into account, yet ISO New England and NESCOE are calling for more pipeline capacity. The fact that the “Low Demand Scenario” created by current efficiency programs was never analyzed and the study in general were termed “flawed” during our meeting with the Governor and Sec. of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The Dept. of Energy Resources has undertaken a new study of cost benefits and risks of following the current trend of efficiency that currently keeping demand for electricity flat. Results of this new study may be available as early as the beginning of next year.
The need for more capacity has been cited as peak demand during cold weather when gas for heating and gas for electric generation compete for existing pipeline capacity. These conditions only happen for a few hours a day, about 10-27 days a year, and it has never led to a dip into our electric generation buffer (the extra electric capacity ISO-NE likes to keep on hand), let alone actual electric demand.
One of our pipeline-watchers has also just discovered that ISO New England has been issuing “Minimum Generation Emergency Warnings.” These are times when consumers were using so little electricity that the gird operator had to ask power plants to NOT generate electricity. As we understand it, this happens far, far more often than the times ISO-NE comes close to dipping into the buffer of electric generation during the 10-27 peak usage days per year that occur in winter. A quick look at the ISO-NE calendar shows that this “Minimum Generation Emergency Warning” happens about 10-20 a MONTH – about 12 times more often than the supposed “capacity constraint” that led to the request for more pipelines.
Poor Infrastructure Management
Even if there were an actual need, there are currently enough leaks in the existing infrastructure to provide another 400 MW of power. The two most dangerous classes of these leaks are now slated to be fixed under new legislation that has passed, but repairing Class 3 leaks (considered non-dangerous) is not mandatory. We think it should be.
There are also existing pipelines that are standing at least partially unused. Using these to capacity to store gas during non-peak times can keep enough reserve to cover the few days every winter when peak demand drives up prices. This project is not being driven by a shortage of gas supply, just a shortage of cheap gas available to electric generation plants during extremely cold weather when people use more of the gas supply for heat.
» Inefficiencies in the grid are a problem nationwide.
Oversized Solution To Proposed “PROBLEM” – Likely Export
Even if the Low Demand Scenario was not proven, the amount of additional pipeline capacity requested by NESCOE is 0.6 Billion cubic feet a day (Bcf/d), but the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project proposed by KM/TGP is being planned for 2.2 Bcf/d.
With nearly four times the capacity called for, where is the other three quarters of that capacity destined? The terminal hub in Dracut is also connection point to the Martimes & Northeast (M&NE) pipeline which has just applied to switch direction, bringing gas from Massachusetts, through Maine to the Maritimes of Canada, where two ports have just applied to switch from import to export. There is also new potential for export from facilities in Maine and Everett, MA.
In selectboard meetings across the state, KM representatives have repeatedly said that they have no control over who their customers are, so exports are on the table. Their own open season bidding memo called from LNG developers and customers in the Maritimes as well as local distribution and electric utilities.
» Article: Unchecked Exports Could Lead to 3X Increase in Natural Gas Prices
Natural Gas Pollutes More Than Existing Grid Sources in MA
Looking into the CO2 emissions averaged over all sources of electric generation in MA, the average per source is 910 lb. per MWh. The average natural gas generation plant is 1,210 lb. per MWh. Natural gas has done it’s “bridge” work. With renewables phasing in at an unprecedented rate, adding more natural gas would now take is in the wrong direction for achieving the state’s greenhouse gas emissions goals – based on CO2 output alone.
Natural gas is also primarily methane, a greenhouse gas over 86 times more powerful than CO2. When a full accounting of methane’s impact is taken into consideration, studies show that it has no benefit over coal or oil in reducing greenhouse gas effects.
Natural gas is often touted as a “bridge fuel” to a clean energy economy. We are standing at the far end, having crossed that “bridge”. It’s time to step forward into that future we’ve been building.
» Excellent explanation of how natural gas is not a long-term solution to climate change from Union of Concerned Scientists