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Millennium Ignores New York, Files to Proceed With Valley Lateral Construction

Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC has again requested that FERC issue a notice to proceed (NTP) with construction of the company’s Valley Lateral Project as soon as possible, saying in its filing that the natural gas-fired power plant the pipeline would serve in New York is relying on the project to meet its February commissioning date.

The request, filed last Friday, comes about a month after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) waived its authority to issue a decision on the project’s water quality certification. FERC said the agency failed to act within the one-year timeframe required by Section 401 of the U.S. Clean Water Act. The decision effectively reversed DEC’s Aug. 30 denial of the project’s WQC, which came nearly two years after Millennium first filed its application.

Millennium said last week that the waiver order was the Valley Lateral’s last remaining regulatory hurdle, arguing in its request that an NTP should be issued promptly because the power plant “urgently needs gas supply so that it can begin supplying the area with much-needed electric power.”

The pipeline would be the only source of natural gas for Competitive Power Ventures’ 680 MW facility, which is currently under construction in Wawayanda, NY. If the Valley Lateral is not built, CPV has said it would burn ultra-low sulfur diesel to generate electricity. Millennium's request also came days after the DEC asked FERC for a rehearing and stay of its waiver order.

Millennium also said prompt issuance of an NTP is “particularly important” given that the tree-clearing window for the project -- intended to protect Indiana bats and migratory birds --  reopens on Nov. 1. The company also has asked FERC to eliminate a requirement in its certificate order that the DEC sign-off on a survey of Bog Turtles in wetlands within the project area. The company submitted the survey to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and DEC in December, but DEC has yet to act on it.

Given the agency’s “posture in this proceeding,” MIllennium wrote in the filing, it’s “unlikely” that regulators will sign-off on the survey, which would prevent the company from moving forward with construction unless the certificate condition is modified by FERC.

FERC certificated the project in November 2016. Millennium previously filed an NTP request in July before FERC waived New York’s authority in an attempt to jumpstart the stalled project as it worked through the legal and regulatory process. Commissioners granted Millennium a one-year extension earlier this month to complete construction.

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