Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) Friday has called on FERC to approve this week Colorado Interstate Co.'s (CIG) proposed High Plains Expansion Project that would serve growing natural gas demand along the Colorado Front Range, particularly in the Denver metropolitan area.

"I encourage you to make a final determination expeditiously on the High Plains Expansion Project so that work can commence this winter or additional issues can be identified," said Allard, a member of the Senate appropriations and budget committees, in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He asked that the agency issue a certificate at its Thursday meeting (Feb. 21).

Separately, CIG and Public Service of Colorado (PSCo), a major shipper on the expansion, also urged the agency to act by Feb. 21, saying a delay would threaten the project's proposed August 2008 in-service date.

"As you know, 60% of the project crosses agricultural lands. CIG has stated that they would like to begin installation of the pipeline during the remaining months of the current winter in order to avoid effects on agricultural producers, who have not yet commenced seasonal operations. Also, numerous irrigation ditches must be crossed in order to complete the project and crossing them during the winter months, when they are dry, would greatly mitigate effects on agricultural operations," Allard said.

At the same time, "operating during the winter months would allow for the least possible effects to species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918," the senator noted.

The High Plains project calls for the construction of 164 miles of 24-inch and 30-inch diameter pipeline, in four separate segments, and associated aboveground facilities in Weld, Adams and Morgan counties in Colorado. The proposed expansion would deliver up to 900 MMcf/d. The facilities would connect with PSCo, which has subscribed for most of the capacity. Other connections would be with CIG affiliate Wyoming Interstate Co. Ltd., Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) and Young Gas Storage.

To avoid unnecessary costs and environmental/landowner impacts, CIG proposes to refunctionalize a portion of its Crazy Horse Lateral, which is located near the Cheyenne Hub in Weld County. This would allow the High Plains pipe facilities to directly connect with REX without having to construct extensive interconnecting facilities, according to CIG.

In late December FERC issued a favorable final environmental review of the CIG project. This is the last step before FERC acts on a certificate for a project.

CIG said it has entered into a precedent agreement with PSCo to provide a maximum daily quantity (MDQ) of 874,000 Dth/d of capacity on the expansion facilities for an initial contract term of approximately 21.5 years. It also has executed a precedent agreement with Coral Energy for an MDQ of 25,000 Dth/d of firm transportation service (see NGI, May 14, 2007).

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