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Making Up for Lost Time? Revamped FERC Grants Nexus Certificate

In the first big natural gas decision handed down by the recently reinstated FERC quorum, the Commission issued a certificate Friday authorizing Nexus Gas Transmission LLC to proceed with its proposed 1.5 million Dth/d Appalachian takeaway pipeline.

Nexus, a 255-mile pipeline designed to connect Marcellus and Utica shale production to markets in the Midwest and Canada, drew the short straw earlier this year when other high-profile projects -- including the competing Rover Pipeline -- received last-minute certificate orders prior to former Chairman Norman Bay's resignation in February.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission spent the next six months without a quorum, leading to delays for Nexus, which received its final environmental impact statement last year.

While they have yet to hold a public meeting, recently sworn-in Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, along with holdover Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, ended Nexus's long wait for a certificate via a notational order posted to the project docket late Friday [CP16-22].

In the same order, FERC issued certificates for several related project applications, including Texas Eastern Transmission LP's 950,155 Dth/d TEAL Project, designed to interconnect with Nexus in Columbiana County, OH. FERC also authorized Nexus-related capacity agreements proposed by DTE Gas Co. and Vector Pipeline LP.

Nexus, like Rover, represents a major source of takeaway capacity for Appalachian gas to move east-to-west out of the basin. The $2.1 billion project proposes constructing around 209.8 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline through 13 counties in Ohio and 46.8 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline through four counties in Michigan.

The project would also involve four new compressor stations in Ohio’s Columbiana, Medina, Sandusky and Lucas counties.

Friday's order should come as a relief to backers DTE and Spectra Energy Partners LP (now a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc.). Nexus has faced pushback from landowners along the route and from Michigan regulators, who scrutinized DTE's capacity commitments to the project, which is about two-thirds subscribed.

DTE management said during a recent conference call that the project, originally scheduled for service this year, is expected to start up in 2018.

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