Tight pipeline capacity pushes N.E. natural gas prices higher

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Wholesale natural gas prices in New England rose twice as fast as most of the country in the first half of the year, largely due to a lack of pipeline capacity in the region to meet growing demand for the fuel, according to the US Energy Department.

Spot market prices soared an average of 146 percent in New England in the first six months of the year from the same period a year ago, compared to 40 to 60 percent in nearly every other part of the country. Only New York, where the wholesale price jumped 112 percent, experienced a similar increase.

The biggest jumps occurred during extended cold temperatures last winter, which increased demand faster than sufficient supplies could reach New England, Energy Department analysts said.

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