Old System, New Solution?: Liquefied Natural Gas Could Be Pipeline Alternative

Second in a two-part series. Here's Part 1.

EVERETT, Mass. — In recent years there has been a revolution in the way New England generates its electricity. Since 2000 the amount produced by burning natural gas has tripled. And today, more than half of our electricity comes from gas imported from outside the region.

But as the use of gas has soared, so too have electric bills here, especially in the dead of winter. That's when the demand for gas for heating and electricity is highest, creating bottlenecks along interstate pipelines.

The transformation of our electric generating system has ignited a contentious debate over whether additional pipeline capacity is needed.

Supporters call natural gas a bridge fuel that can help supply the region with electricity until renewable sources become feasible. But opponents say pipelines are a bridge too far and a barrier to a clean energy future.

One possible alternative is natural gas — in a different form. And one alternative to pipelines is located in Boston Harbor along the Mystic River, not far from Logan International Airport.

Ken Sparks, left, and Joe Stanford monitor operations from the control room at the Everett Distrigas terminal. Liquid natural gas is taken from tankers and then stored. The liquid is then distributed by truck or vaporized and distributed by pipeline. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

It's called the Everett Distrigas LNG terminal, and it's the oldest terminal of its kind in the United States. For over 40 years ships from foreign c....

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