Kinder Morgan, through its subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., has proposed a multibillion dollar pipeline that would supply Massachusetts with natural gas from the abundant shale fields of Pennsylvania. The pipeline is part of the Northeast Energy Direct project also known as the Northeast Expansion. The pipeline would run from Wright, NY to Dracut, MA. The Northeast Expansion also includes a plan to build a pipeline from Troy, PA to Wright, NY. This in turn would form a natural gas superhighway, efficiently providing dozens of municipalities in Massachusetts and the greater Boston area with affordable natural gas.
Kinder Morgan has over 70,000 miles of pipeline making it the largest gas transporter and largest storage operator in North America. Besides being the largest midstream company it is also the fourth biggest energy company by enterprise value ($105 billion). Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Expansion will provide greater stability to the energy market in the region. During the past winter, supply prices shot up due to the extended cold weather caused by the polar vortex. However, while the Kinder Morgan pipeline would bring increased volume and capacity of cheap, domestic natural gas; the pipeline has been hotly contested by environmentalists.
Conservationists argue that the natural gas superhighway would cut through and thereby destroy the scenic countryside and farmlands of Massachusetts. In Richmond, MA there are already several pipelines that run through the area and the Kinder Morgan pipeline would be the fifth to run through the town. Environmentalists contend that Massachusetts should turn away from this source of natural gas as evidenced by their grass roots effort called “No Fracked Gas in Mass.” Instead, they argue that Massachusetts should pursue electricity generation from clean energy sources such as solar and wind and focus on improving overall energy efficiency. A spokesman from Kinder Morgan addressed these concerns stating that the pipeline is their solution to an energy problem that state government officials have asked them to solve.
With the move away from coal (two of the last three coal plants closed this month and Massachusetts’ last coal facility is set to close in 2017), the state has been heavily shifting its reliance to natural gas. Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Expansion would definitely help provide cheaper, domestic natural gas to the region where natural gas heats 50% of homes and two-thirds of electricity used by the state is produced by natural gas-fired plants.