The Access Northeast pipeline expansion faces a setback after losing major customers in Massachusetts, following an unfavorable ruling by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. National Grid and Eversource Energy this week withdrew petitions they had filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities for 20-year agreements to take gas from the Algonquin Gas Transmission system.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts last week blocked a plan that would have allowed the electric utilities to pass along the costs of signing up to the pipeline to consumers.
Access Northeast – being developed by Spectra Energy, Eversource Energy and National Grid – is designed to maximize direct pipeline interconnects to approximately 6 0 percent of ISO - NE’s natural gas - fired power plants and advance a customized solution to New England’s energy challenge.
Eversource said in a statement that it withdrew its contract petition in light of the court’s ruling. “This does not affect our commitment to the project,” the company stated.
In an order last year, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities determined that it could approve long-term contracts between electric distribution utilities and pipelines and allow the utilities to pass along the costs to consumers, the Journal reported.
But the Conservation Law Foundation sued. Opponents described the deal as a “pipeline tax” that would shift the burden of funding pipeline construction onto consumers.
Spectra, the owner of the pipeline, said that its expansion project is still moving forward, and that National Grid and Eversource are still co-developers. The company could find other customers for the capacity, in Massachusetts or in other states.