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Pacific Northwest Gas Storage Expansion on Schedule for Power Boost

Expanded natural gas storage capacity dedicated to power generation in the Pacific Northwest is progressing on schedule and should be in service in the fourth quarter this year, according to executives at NW Natural.

During an earnings call Friday, CEO David Anderson said completion of a $132 million expansion of the North Mist gas storage field in Oregon is on track to begin operations before the start of the 2018-2019 winter heating season. Critical engineering, construction and testing work is scheduled to be wrapped up in the first half of this year.

NW Natural sees Mist as having a valuable location, enabling the utility to provide "high value with long-term contracts," Anderson said. Mist's current working capacity of 16 Bcf is primarily geared toward servicing core customers during peak demand periods.

For the past three or four years, NW Natural -- in conjunction with the local electric utility, Portland General Electric (PGE) -- has been pursuing the current ongoing expansion of Mist specifically to serve electric power generation on a long-term basis.

The expansion calls for adding 2.5 Bcf of storage capacity and a 13-mile, 16-inch diameter transmission pipeline specifically developed for PGE, which has signed a 30-year storage contract that can be extended.

"We are on track with the project, completing the pipeline to a PGE industrial park where the power plants are located, and we plan to begin injecting gas, install the compressor station and finish injecting base gas by mid-2018," said Anderson. "When the expansion is placed in service, it will immediately have an established ratemaking schedule approved by the Oregon Public Utility Commission."

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