Projects & Operations

Flexibility, reliability and storage are key to Northwest Pipeline success

Originally known as the “Scenic Inch” because of the beautiful country it traverses, Northwest Pipeline is a primary artery for the transmission of natural gas to the Pacific Northwest.

In fact, the system is the primary provider of affordable natural gas to the population centers of Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Boise, Idaho, serving local distribution companies, industrial users and power plants.

The 4,000-mile bi-directional system is uniquely positioned to meet daily and peak need for clean, reliable energy with supply access to British Columbia, Alberta, Rocky Mountain and San Juan Basin gas.

Northwest Pipeline also connects to six natural gas storage facilities located along its system, providing 135 billion cubic feet of additional natural gas during peak demand.  For storage, natural gas is injected – or liquified in the case of LNG – during the warmer months, when demand is lower, and then withdrawn when usage peaks, usually in the winter. On-system gas and access to storage is critical to meet demand as was evident with Winter Storm Elliott in 2022.

“It’s like a savings account for a rainy day,” said Gary Venz, director of commercial services for Northwest Pipeline. “We are saving that natural gas to be used on those peak days to make sure the energy keeps moving. It gives us flexibility so we can be dependable and reliable partners to our customers.”

Demand for natural gas continues to grow as coal-fired power plants are retired and the region relies on natural gas fired power generation plants as a critical resource and reliable backstop to renewables like wind and solar.

While wind and solar capacity grew 86 percent in the Pacific Northwest, Northwest Pipeline has established new records of daily demand several times since 2019.

In fact, for all of 2022, Northwest Pipeline established an annual throughput record, transporting in excess of 900 billion cubic feet of natural gas for its customers, which is an increase of 37% since 2012.

Throughout its more than 65-year history, the pipeline has undergone multiple expansions, along with rigorous maintenance and inspection, to meet growing energy demand.

We’ve also added eight interconnects to move carbon neutral renewable natural gas sourced from landfills, dairies and other agriculture sources in the Northwest. Agriculture accounts for about 10 percent of all greenhouse gases, so turning that naturally occurring methane into pipeline-quality gas is a big win for the environment.

A commitment to safety, along with proven reliability and the flexibility of our system, allows us to bring affordable clean energy to the Pacific Northwest.

Local utilities served by Northwest Pipeline:

  • Cascade Natural Gas
  • Intermountain Gas
  • Avista
  • Northwest Natural
  • Puget Sound Energy (PSE)
  • Northern Nevada LDCs via Paiute Pipeline

Northwest Pipeline also serves:

  • 19 industrial direct connects
  • 7 power plants
  • 9 municipalities
  • 8 interconnects for renewable natural gas