CNG Flip-Flops on Northeast Gas Need, Other Pipe Projects Say
The sponsors of Independence Pipeline and Millennium Pipeline
projects contend CNG Transmission Corp. is speaking with a forked
tongue when it comes to assessing the future need for new pipeline
capacity to the Northeast market.
CNG has long been claiming that no market exists to support the
Northeast-bound Independence and Millennium projects, but it did
an about-face a few weeks ago when it announced a joint venture
with Tennessee Gas Pipeline to transport 750,000 Dth/d of gas from
Chicago and the Niagara Import Point to markets in New York,
Pennsylvania and New England, according to sponsors of Independence
and Millennium [CP97-315 et al].
But CNG, which views its proposal as "economically and
environmentally superior" to the Independence and Millennium
greenfield projects, said its joint venture - the Atlantic Alliance
Project - doesn't signal a departure from its previous views on
Northeast market growth. "In fact, this project represents a
reasonable way to accommodate market growth, while encouraging the
efficient use of the existing pipeline grid," it told FERC. CNG
added the project would involve "construction of a relatively small
amount of new pipeline facilities," possibly as little as 31 miles.
Independence contends CNG's has stooped to using "delaying
tactics," such as criticizing FERC's environmental analysis of the
1 Bcf/d Independence, in order to give its Atlantic Alliance
Project time to "catch up."
Millennium officials also accused CNG of similar tactics, adding
that the Atlantic Alliance Project shows CNG has flip-flopped on
its previous claim that no new capacity is needed for the
Northeast. The Atlantic Alliance "plans make it clear that CNG does
not agree with the testimony it.....presented to the Commission [at
the Northeast conference in June], and that the testimony was only
filed as part of a regulatory strategy designed to delay the
Millennium project," said David C. Pentzien, chairman of the
Millennium Pipeline Management Co., the sole general partner in the
CNG, as well as Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco), has asked
the Commission to suspend further action on Independence while FERC
staff considers alternatives to the project, including ones that
they have proposed. They insist staff's draft environmental impact
statement (DEIS) analysis of the Independence and the related
MarketLink projects was "deficient" and "useless" because it failed
to review all viable alternatives. Tetco has gone a "step further"
and has asked FERC to hold another conference to assess various
project alternatives. CNG said it supports Tetco's request.
But Independence countered that "neither proposal demonstrated
that sufficient [turnback] capacity would be available to serve the
needs of the Independence and MarketLink shippers anytime remotely
close to a November 2000 in-service date." Moreover, it said that
"for sufficient turnback capacity to be available to meet the firm
needs for Independence/MarketLink markets, substantial existing
market demand that is currently being served by that capacity would
have to disappear.....Independence does not believe this is a
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