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Columbia Plans Expansion to Serve Tidewater VA, NC

Columbia Plans Expansion to Serve Tidewater VA, NC

Growing demand and limited gas transportation capacity in the Tidewater area of southeastern Virginia, northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Maryland prompted Columbia Gas Transmission to test the market for a pipeline expansion in that area.

Columbia is holding a two-month open season to assess interest in the proposed Homestead Expansion Project, which would provide firm transportation services to the company's operating areas one and 10, which include the tidewater area. The open season started Nov. 17 and will close Jan. 19.

"Southeastern Virginia is one of the most heavily constrained areas on our system," said David Pentzien, vice president of market development for Columbia Gas Transmission. "Over the past several months, we have received several inquiries relating to firm transportation service capacity availability in this region and we believe significant demand for new capacity is concentrated in this region. We expect the response to this open season will be further proof of the increased natural gas demand we are experiencing throughout Virginia markets."

Michael Strauss, Columbia Gas Transmission's manager of market development, said the project also is intended to compete with pipeline expansions proposed by Dominion Transmission and Duke Energy. Duke's Patriot project would extend the East Tennessee system into North Carolina, while Dominion's Greenbrier project would extend from West Virginia to North Carolina.

"Ours is a little farther east of where these guys are" but all three projects are targeting new power generation load as well as general market growth in the area. "Serving a new power plant is just like adding a new LDC in one shot," said Strauss.

"This past summer our pipeline was interrupted in this area pretty much all summer," he noted. "We're seeing just an extreme amount of development from power plants. We're getting quite a few calls from new developers and LDCs as well.

"The real tight constraint is on what we call the old Commonwealth Gas Pipeline intrastate system, which extends down to the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area. But we've also had requests from Maryland too."

Columbia will evaluate nominations for service under various rate schedules, including Firm Transportation Service (FTS), Firm Storage Service (FSS) and Storage Service Transportation (SST). It also will consider requests for summer (April-October) and winter (November-March) seasonal services.

Interested parties are invited to submit a bid package, which may be obtained from Columbia's Navigator electronic bulletin board (www.columbianavigator.com), or by contacting Michael Strauss at (703)-227-3364 or at mjstrauss@ceg.com.

Rocco Canonica

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