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Briefs -- Excelerate and PREPA, KCC, Puget Sound Energy, GTI-Aerojet

FERC has authorized construction of the Aguirre Offshore GasPort Project off the coast of Puerto Rico, a project of The Woodlands, TX-based Excelerate Energy LP and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). Staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a favorable environmental impact statement for the project in February (see Daily GPIFeb. 20). The project is a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal consisting of a storage and regasification unit, infrastructure to moor the vessel, and a subsea pipeline to deliver the gas onshore. The facility will provide fuel to PREPA's Central Aguirre Power Complex. Fuel cost reduction and environmental improvements, such as improved air quality and reduced barge traffic in the environmentally sensitive Jobos Bay, are the primary drivers for bringing the project to Puerto Rico, according to Excelerate. Construction is estimated to begin during the first quarter of 2016 with an in-service date of the second quarter of 2017.

U.S. senators from Kansas -- Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both Republicans -- introduced legislation that proposes to allow states to regulate underground natural gas storage facilities. They claim the federal government has failed to properly oversee the facilities. Their concern stems from a 2001 natural gas escape and explosion at an underground storage facility in the state. "It's been over 10 years since we lost two lives to a gas explosion in Hutchison [KS], and the federal government is still nowhere to be found," Roberts said. "We need strong oversight in the storage of natural gas reserves, and in the absence of federal leadership, the state must be allowed to step up and protect its people." A 2009 District Court ruling determined that Kansas, through the Kansas Corporation Commission, could not monitor its own storage fields if the gas in those facilities is for interstate transportation. In Kansas, there are 11 interstate underground storage sites containing more than 270 Bcf of gas, according to the senators. The Senate Commerce Committee is set to debate the Pipeline Safety Act, which is set to expire in September. Roberts and Moran, a member of the Commerce Committee, said they will work to see that the Underground Gas Storage Facility Safety Act is included in the discussions. The pair have tried to advance similar legislation before (see Daily GPIApril 26, 2013).

Washington state regulators have opened an investigation to pinpoint the costs associated with the previously announced closing of Bellevue, WA-based Puget Sound Energy's (PSE) two coal-fired generation units at the Colstrip complex in Montana. A spokesperson for the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) told NGI the proceeding will not consider the replacement power, which will likely be a combination of renewables, natural gas-fired generation and added efficiency programs. PSE said it intends to transition to cleaner energy sources for its power, and the Washington state legislature has considered bills to establish a process for the combination utility to finance the closure of the units using low-cost bonds. The UTC is seeking stakeholder and utility comments for its investigation by Sept. 15.

The Illinois-based Gas Technology Institute (GTI) has acquired energy system assets from long-time research partner Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR), an aerospace contractor, for an undisclosed amount. AR's power/energy solutions unit has developed clean fossil energy systems technology as part of the package that includes the transfer of patents and intellectual property, physical assets, and what GTI described as "technologies across the spectrum of gas and oil production, gasification, gas-to-liquids, power generation and hydrogen generation." For the past 10 years, GTI has worked closely with AR, helping develop its compact gasifier for coal and natural gas conversion. GTI will now carry on some of the AR work in energy.

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