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In This Issue

Eversource and Activists at Odds Over Latest New England Pipeline Study

PJM Interconnection Approves $1.5bn to Improve Electric Transmission Infrastructure

Natural Gas and Oil Market Update

EIA - Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

NYMEX Natural Gas Week-to-Week Price Change

Natural Gas Futures - Five Year Price


NOAA 6 to 10 Day Outlook
Color indicates the probability of forecasted temperatures being above or below a historical average for the period.


Market Overviews

Eversource and Activists at Odds Over Latest New England Pipeline Study

MassLive | February 13, 2017

Controversy over natural gas pipelines in New England continued last week, as climate activists and Eversource Energy traded barbs over a recent study that targets Access Northeast, a stalled project that would serve a collection of power plants in the region.

The report, titled "New England's Shrinking Need for Natural Gas," claims the proposed pipeline would cost consumers $6.6 billion, more than twice the $3.2 billion figure cited by developers.

Prepared by the Cambridge-based Synapse Energy Economics, the study also claims that state climate change laws and the advent of large-scale renewables will soon force the use of natural gas to plummet in New England, rendering the proposed pipeline useless, redundant and moot.

Pipeline foes celebrated the study's Feb. 7 release, while Eversource, an Access Northeast project partner, condemned its methods and findings.

The Synapse report "does a disservice to consumers by overstating the costs of the project, underestimating the impact on families and businesses of doing nothing, and ignoring the real reliability concerns that must be addressed," said Eversource in a statement.

Eversource said New Englanders in December paid electricity prices 47 percent higher than the national average, "in large part due to inadequate natural gas supplies." 

But according to the Massachusetts Sierra Club, the Synapse report "confirms what we've been saying all along -- these pipelines aren't needed, would raise costs on consumers, contribute to climate change, and put us in non-compliance with Massachusetts' energy and environmental laws."

Kathryn Eiseman, president of Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast, said the study "provides a reality check on the costs of Access Northeast to consumers, and demonstrates that forging ahead with massive gas infrastructure expansion is incompatible with legal mandates throughout the region."

Massachusetts is currently under a court order to reduce emissions across all sectors, as required buy its 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.

Eversource countered that the region has seen a 45 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions since natural gas began to replace coal and oil for electricity generation. The company also said pipeline constraints pose a growing reliability risk to the six-state power grid. 

"The report is flawed and fails to recognize the energy challenges facing consumers and businesses in New England," Eversource stated. "The lack of adequate natural gas infrastructure is threatening our region's energy reliability, driving up costs and hurting efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions."

The report projects that natural gas usage will be 41 percent lower by 2030, and 27 percent lower by 2023, due to climate laws and emission caps. It also claims the cited $3.2 billion construction cost excludes costs such as operations, maintenance, depreciation and return on equity, making the full cost $6.6 billion.

Access Northeast would upgrade the existing Algonquin pipeline system, and is designed to serve over 70 percent of New England's power plants with natural gas from the Marcellus shale region. The project would include a large liquefied natural gas facility in Acushnet, south of Boston.

The project, proposed by Spectra Energy, Eversource and National Grid, hit a major snag last year.

Under original plans, Access Northeast would have been financed by a surcharge on consumer electric bills. In August, Massachusetts' highest court nixed that arrangement. Public utility regulators in New Hampshire rejected a similar financing scheme. Electric companies under Eversource and National Grid in August withdrew their petitions for capacity on the pipeline. 

Spectra's Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC recently put Access Northeast on hold at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but partners have said they are committed to the project. 

"Algonquin is taking additional time to evaluate our path forward and will provide an update to stakeholders after we have completed our comprehensive analysis of the project," said a Spectra spokesman via email on Monday. "We expect limited activity while this evaluation is ongoing."

The Synapse report was funded by Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Consumers for Sensible Energy, Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast, Sierra Club Connecticut and Sierra Club Massachusetts.

"We know that to comply with the law and sound climate policy, we must reject this gas infrastructure overbuild and double down on renewables, energy storage, and demand-side solutions -- and this study shows that," said Eiseman.

Read More:

PJM Interconnection Approves $1.5bn to Improve Electric Transmission Infrastructure

Energy Business Review | February 16, 2017

US-based regional transmission organization (RTO) PJM Interconnection has approved a budget of $1.5bn to improve electric transmission infrastructure in its 13-state and Washington, D.C. region.

The RTO has authorized funding for various large and mid-size projects to provide better power supply for around 65 million consumers in these areas.

The largest project will replace the aging infrastructure in Burlington, Mercer and Middlesex counties in New Jersey, in addition to reconstructing of portions of existing transmission lines.

Equipment will be replaced in the north New Jersey project in PSE&G, while some of the transmission facilities must be replaced, as they are more than 80 years old.

PJM Board sanctioned a three-part project to reconstruct and upgrade to 230kV, the 138kV lines in the Metuchen-Edison-Trenton-Burlington corridor.

The board has also approved multiple projects that range from replacing transformers to upgrading circuits to rebuilding line segments.

These projects are located in the areas ruled by Metropolitan Edison, PP&L, PSE&G, AEP, Dominion, and Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky.

PJM Interconnection president and CEO Andrew Ott said: "The growing need to replace aging infrastructure, energy efficiency and the resulting reduction in the growth of demand for electricity are affecting transmission development.

"Our job is to make sure that the infrastructure all of us count on is sound and delivering power in the safest and most efficient way.”

Since 2000, the RTO had authorized around $30.8bn in transmission additions and upgrades in its regional transmission expansion plan.

PJM operates high-voltage electric power system in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Read More:

Natural Gas and Oil Market Update


Natural Gas Inventory Posts Small Drawdown, Price Slips to YTD Low

Yahoo! Finance | February 16, 2017

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks decreased by 114 billion cubic feet for the week ending February 10. Analysts were expecting a storage decline of around 124 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is a withdrawal of around 156 billion cubic feet, and last year’s storage decline for the week totaled 163 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories fell by 152 billion cubic feet in the week ending February 3.

Natural gas futures for April delivery traded down by about 2% in advance of the EIA's report, at around $2.88 per million BTUs, and they traded at $2.86 shortly after the data release.


Oil Prices Steady After Sharp Rise in U.S. Stockpiles

Yahoo! Finance | February 2, 2017

Data from the Energy Information Administration released Wednesday revealed a sixth straight weekly rise in U.S. crude inventories, lifting the total to an all-time high.

Futures prices for crude, however, registered only a slight loss, finding some support as the size of week-to-week increase came close the number reported by trade group American Petroleum Institute, late Tuesday. Traders also held out hope that continued production cuts by major oil producers will draw down global oil stockpiles.

EIA - Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

EIA - Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

Working gas in storage was 2,445 Bcf as of Friday, February 10, 2017, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decrease of 114 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 303 Bcf less than last year at this time and 87 Bcf above the five-year average of 2,358 Bcf. At 2,445 Bcf, total working gas is within the five-year historical range.

NYMEX Natural Gas Week-to-Week Price Change NYMEX Natural Gas Week-to-Week Price Change

Natural Gas Futures - Five Year Price ($ per mmBtu)

NYMEX Natural Gas Week-to-Week Price Change - Five Yearly Snapshot

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