Algonquin seeks FERC approval for Salem Harbor gas pipeline

Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC, an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Spectra Energy Partners LLC, on Dec. 4 filed a resource report with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of a planned pipeline to a repowered Salem Harbor power plant in Massachusetts.

The company is seeking FERC approval to construct, install, own, operate, and maintain the Salem Lateral Project, located in the City of Salem in Essex County, Mass. The Salem Lateral Project will deliver needed natural gas supplies to meet immediate and future supply requirements at the Salem Harbor facility, which is proposed for redevelopment by Footprint Power Salem Harbor Development LP. The target in-service date for Algonquin’s Salem Lateral Project is Nov. 1, 2015.

The project will consist of the construction of about 1.2 miles of new 16-inch diameter pipeline lateral and a new metering and regulating station. The maximum allowable operating pressure downstream of the Salem Lateral will be 1,440 pounds per square inch gauge. The maximum design capacity of the lateral pipeline will be 145 million cubic feet per day.

This initial pre-filing draft resource report provides a description of potential alternatives identified by Algonquin and reflects the input received from agency consultations, discussions with local landowners, residents and public officials, and a recent stakeholder meeting held in the City of Salem.

The Salem lateral will create additional firm pipeline capacity necessary to deliver 115,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/d) of natural gas to provide fuel for Footprint’s redeveloped Salem Harbor facility. Algonquin and Footprint have entered into a precedent agreement for development of the Salem Lateral Project, which provides that Algonquin and Footprint will enter into a firm transportation service agreement for service on the Salem Lateral.

Footprint is replacing an existing coal- and oil-fired generation facility with a 630-MW, natural gas-fired, quick-start, combined-cycle facility which will provide significant environmental benefits to the region as it continues to support the power grid in Northeast Massachusetts (NEMA), the resource plan noted.

On March 15, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities determined that Footprint’s project is needed to meet the additional capacity resources required in NEMA/Boston over the next ten years. The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board approved Footprint’s petition on Oct. 10 and found that the construction and operation of Footprint’s proposed facility will provide a reliable energy supply for the Commonwealth with a minimum impact on the environment at the lowest possible cost.

Algonquin says gas plant to back up increased wind capacity in region

In looking at alternatives to this project, the resource plan noted that in early 2009, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced a goal of developing 2,000 MW of wind power capacity by 2020.

Deepwater Wind has several proposals for offshore wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean, the plan said. The Block Island Wind Farm is a proposed 30-MW wind farm to be located about three miles south of Block Island and would provide power via a 21-mile submarine cable to Narragansett, R.I. Construction is anticipated to commence in 2014. The Deepwater Wind Energy Center would consist of 150 to 200 turbines to be located 30 miles east of Montauk, N.Y., and 15 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard. The turbines would be located more than 20 miles from land and would produce 900 to 1,200 MW of power. Deepwater has won the exclusive right to develop in this 256 square mile area in the outer continental shelf from the U.S. government. Power could be sold to Long Island or New England.

“However, it is not likely that construction of this project would commence until Deepwater has a buyer for the additional power,” the plan said. “There are also several small wind farm projects on land throughout New England that are now operating or are in the permitting or development phase, such as the Hoosac Wind Energy Project (operating) and Douglas Wood Renewable Energy Park (seeking permits) in Massachusetts.”

The quick-start combined cycle generating facility proposed by Footprint supports the development of wind generation in Massachusetts, the plan added. “Given that wind power is an intermittent resource, the quick-start generation technology of the facility will produce clean and cost-effective energy during periods when wind output is not available,” it explained. “Footprint’s new facility will be more efficient and will have fewer emissions than other peaker generation facilities that currently fill the gap when wind is not available.”

The last coal- and oil-fired capacity at Salem Harbor will be shut down at the end of May 2014. The plant has four separate units, which were owned and operated by a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) from 2005 until August 2012, when Footprint became the owner of the facility. Units 1 and 2, both coal-fired, were removed from service at the end of 2011. Of the two remaining units, one is coal-fired and one is oil-fired.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.