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Millennium Pipeline to be Fully Operational by Dec. 15

More than a decade after the project was first proposed, Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC's 182-mile, 30-inch diameter gas pipeline across New York's Southern Tier and lower Hudson Valley will be fully operational by Dec. 15, the company said last Wednesday.

FERC recently authorized Columbia Gas Transmission (CGT) to begin service on two portions of the Millennium Pipeline -- first an 18.5-mile segment in Steuben and Chemung counties, between the Corning Compressor Station at milepost 190.6 and the mainline valve MLV 1011 at milepost 209.1 (see NGI, Nov. 24); and then last week a 76.6-mile segment between mileposts 209.1 and 285.7 in Chemung, Tioga, Broome and Delaware counties.

Millennium said gas is flowing in portions of pipeline located in Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan counties on behalf of CGT under an arrangement necessitated by the "lift and lay" construction method used on the eastern segments of the pipeline.

"Tie in and testing of the remaining pipeline is well under way," Millennium said. "Work continues on the sole compressor station at Corning with commissioning tests set for early December."

Millennium previously said it planned to complete construction of the entire pipeline by Dec. 1 and said it could begin carrying gas as soon as that same day (see NGI, Nov. 3). Earlier in the year Millennium had scheduled completion in November (see NGI, June 2). Above-average rainfall in spring 2008, combined with late delivery of some materials and construction delays at environmentally sensitive areas in the Catskill Mountains and in horizontal directional drilling at some rivers, led to the postponement, according to the company.

Construction was begun last year with the installation of 12 miles of pipeline, mostly in New York's Orange and Rockland counties (see NGI, May 12). While most of the mainline pipeline installation work is being completed this year, some land restoration and environmental monitoring work is expected to extend into 2009 and beyond, Millennium said.

Millennium, which will transport up to 525,400 Dth/d when it goes into service, is the centerpiece of a $1 billion investment in new energy infrastructure that includes new facilities by Empire State Pipeline, Algonquin Gas Transmission and Iroquois Gas Transmission. The pipeline is anchored by National Grid, Consolidated Edison of New York, Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corp. and Columbia. Millennium is owned by affiliates of NiSource Inc., National Grid and DTE Energy.

The bidirectional pipeline will directly or indirectly serve markets in New York, New Jersey and New England. Western New York gas storage and production can be accessed directly through Millennium, and Canadian gas can be delivered through interconnections with Empire State Pipeline and National Fuel Gas Supply.

Plans for Millennium were forced to clear a series of hurdles since the company made the proposal in 1997. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a certificate for the project in September 2002, but New York stalled Millennium because it claimed that adverse effects along portions of the planned route were inconsistent with the state's coastal management program.

In December 2003 then-Commerce Secretary Donald Evans upheld New York state's objection to Millennium's proposal (see NGI, Dec. 22, 2003). The project foundered for several years until it was revised and scaled down. Changes included the removal from blueprints of a new pipe under the Hudson River in favor of a less controversial plan to use the existing Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC system; the sidestepping of Mount Vernon, NY, which had opposed the projects; and the abandonment of plans to cross Lake Erie in favor of utilizing the Empire system near the Canadian border.

While FERC certified the project at a cost of $654 million, Millennium has said the final cost won't be known until after the pipeline is completed and in service.

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