The United States has the energy resources it needs, but it lacks the infrastructure such as pipelines, or transmission lines, needed to transport energy from where it is to where it is needed. Consumer Energy Alliance ranked the top 5 most important energy infrastructure projects in the United States today:
1. Natural Gas Pipelines in New England
New England natural gas prices skyrocketed during the cold winter of 2014, with the average winter heating bill increasing from $1,400 to $1,700. This is a trend that the EIA linked to insufficient pipeline delivery systems. Recently, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners announced that it would expand its Tennessee Gas Pipeline to include the Northeast Energy Direct Project, a move that is expected to provide 500 million cubic feet per day in gas, or an 11 percent increase in supply. Similarly, Spectra Energy has plans to expand its Algonquin and Martitimes pipeline systems to increase capacity and reliability in order to provide more natural gas to New England. Earlier this year, six New England governors proposed a plan to increase the region’s natural gas infrastructure by 20 percent within three years.
2. North Dakota Needs the President to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline
Legislators from states lying above the Bakken Field have been outspoken for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline as a way to transport oil in the formation to refineries in Texas. “The President’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline was the wrong one, plain and simple. Building the Keystone Pipeline will create North Dakota jobs as well as drive down costs of fuel for small businesses and North Dakota families. There is no time to wait,” said North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp in response to President Obama’s rejection of TransCanada’s application in 2012. Eventually, Bakken oil could account for nearly 25 percent of the KXL’s supply. Enbridge Energy is currently surveying a path for the proposed Sandpiper pipeline, a project that would move 15.8 million gallons of oil a day from North Dakota to terminals in Superior, Wisconsin.
3. Record Natural Gas Production in Marcellus Hampered by Lack of Pipelines
The growth of natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale has increased rapidly since 2007 and recently surpassed the 15 billion cubic feet per day mark. In response to the surge in production in areas like West Virginia there has been an increasing interest in constructing pipeline systems that can deliver large volumes of natural gas to markets around the country, like those on the Atlantic coast. Dominion Resources, for instance, is exploring the feasibility of building pipeline, called the Southeast Reliability Project, to transport natural gas from West Virginia to South Carolina. If Dominion moves forward on its plans construction would begin in 2017 and be completed by the end of 2018.
4. Florida Natural Gas Pipeline at Max Capacity
Over 68 percent of Florida’s electricity is generated by natural gas, yet there are only two major pipelines that provide natural gas to Central and South Florida. Coal currently provides nearly 21 percent of Florida’s energy, and natural gas will play an increasingly important role in the state’s energy plan as coal-fired plants continue to close due to increasing regulation by the EPA. In October 2013, the Florida Public Service Commission approved a pipeline proposal from Florida Power & Light that would increase natural gas capacity by 20 percent that will be operational in 2017.
5. Transmission Lines Needed in Midwest and New England
Wind and hydroelectric energy are quickly becoming viable sources of power for large demand centers like the Midwest and New England. Not enough transmission projects currently exist to effectively deliver power to these areas, but this may soon change: at least five major projects have been proposed to move Canadian hydroelectric power across the border to New England and Clean Line Energy Partners has announced that it wants to spend $2.2 billion to move wind energy generated in Kansas east toward Indiana through a 750-mile-long voltage overhead transmission line. Construction of these large-scale projects have raised public concerns about eminent domain, but supporters are hopeful that renewables will prove an adequate replacement for the closing of many of the country’s coal-fired plants due to EPA regulations.