Southern Plans Expansion to Serve Generation

Southern Natural Gas filed an application with FERC last week for a $24.9 million pipeline expansion project designed to serve a new power plant being built in Calhoun County, AL, by Calhoun Power and to provide additional capacity for Alabama Gas Co. and the City of Sylacauga, AL. The project will add 33 MMcf/d of firm capacity to the Sonat system, and when combined with existing unused summer capacity, will enable Southern to transport a total of 118 MMcf/d for the three customers.

The bulk of the space (85 MMcf/d) will be used by the new power plant. The Calhoun plant will be a simple-cycle peaking plant with capacity to power 500,000 homes. Most of its output will be sold to Alabama Power at peak demand periods during the summer. In contrast, Alabama Gas (30 MMcf/d) and Sylacauga (3 MMcf/d) have experienced substantial winter residential load growth. Combined the demand represents high annual load-factor growth and requires an expansion, Southern told FERC (Docket CP01-161).

The project will involve the addition of 27 miles of looping line or replacement pipe and one new 6,000 hp compressor unit at Southern's Pell City station in St. Clair County, AL. Southern also will build a new 18-inch diameter tap on its mainline and North Main Loop in Calhoun County, AL to provide gas to Calhoun Power.

Nonjurisdictional facilities associated with the project include the new power plant, some 16-inch diameter pipe to the plant and a new 115 kV transmission line being built by Alabama Power to run the new pipeline compressor.

Southern is seeking to roll the project costs into existing rates, stating the project will "be an integral part of Southern's system" and "may be used for the benefit of all shippers on Southern's system." The company also said the new facilities would provide "significant long-term financial benefit" to the pipeline system.

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