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Tetco Seeks 'Hard Look' at Northeast Project Alternatives

Tetco Seeks 'Hard Look' at Northeast Project Alternatives

Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) has asked FERC to schedule a conference to take a "hard look" at "viable alternatives" - notably those using turned-back capacity - to the controversial Independence-MarketLink pipeline projects and perhaps the proposed Millennium Pipeline.

A conference is necessary to address the potential for "unnecessary duplication" of existing capacity posed by the proposed Northeast-bound facilities, "further define" the anticipated Northeast gas demand, address shortfalls in the draft environmental impact statements (DEIS) on the projects, and enable sponsors to respond in detail to staff data requests about their projects, Tetco said in its request [CP97-515].

"A face-to-face meeting will lead to resolution of matters sooner for the project sponsors, project shippers and alternative projects," it told FERC. The meeting could take the form of either a technical conference, settlement conference, mediation or other alternative dispute resolution. And while its focus would be on the related Independence-MarketLink projects, Tetco said the proposed conference also "may have relevance" for the proposed Millennium system, whose key sponsor is Columbia Gas Transmission. Sponsors of Independence are ANR Pipeline, National Fuel Gas Supply and Williams' Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line, while MarketLink is solely a Transco project.

One proposed alternative that Tetco wants the Commission to seriously weigh is its own. It contends it has enough existing and projected turned-back capacity on its system that, when combined with "certain additional construction," would satisfy the customer needs of the Independence line and a portion of MarketLink. Specifically, Tetco said it could satisfy market demand of 663,000 Dth/d from an interconnection with ANR Pipeline at Muncie, IN, to Linden, NJ - a demand level that is "commensurate" with the existing subscriptions for MarketLink (663,000 Dth/d) and 34,000 Dth/d more than the current subscribed level for Independence (629,000 Dth/d).

Tetco outlined its alternative for the Commission in June, pointing out that it previously was overlooked by FERC staff in its DEIS on Independence. Tetco was evaluated as a possible substitute for the MarketLink project in the DEIS, the pipeline said, but the availability of its turned-back capacity was not factored into the equation. The Commission staff subsequently asked Tetco to provide it with "supplemental comments" on its alternative, which it has done.

This, as well as other incidents "raise[d] questions...about the adequacy of the DEIS in its evaluation of alternatives," and whether staff's analysis conformed to the standards of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Tetco said. "Texas Eastern has a stake in this analysis in that its alternative - use of turned-back capacity - will protect Texas Eastern and its customers from the cost-shifting effects of duplicative new capacity." Others, such as Tennessee, CNG Transmission Corp. and Consolidated Edison, also have challenged the adequacy of FERC staff's assessment of alternatives to Independence in the DEIS.

With respect to Millennium, National Fuel and ANR Pipeline - sponsors of Independence - have suggested an alternative that calls for the proposed 417-mile Columbia project to be folded into an expanded Independence and SupplyLink (a looping, compression project). Likewise, Tennessee Gas Pipeline has proposed two alternatives for Millennium - one for 700 MDth/d and another for 300 MDth/d.

Tetco said it believes a conference is warranted to provide a "reasonable review of and 'hard look' at viable alternatives, including partial alternatives."

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