FERC Thursday approved Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line's proposal for a $73 million expansion that would create 165 MMcf/d of new firm transportation capacity to serve markets in the greater Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD, metropolitan areas.

The Potomac expansion project, which is targeted for service in November, is designed to alleviate the capacity constraints in the Mid-Atlantic region. It would supply natural gas to the customers of three local distribution companies (LDC) -- Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Columbia Gas of Virginia and Washington Gas Light Co.

"There is strong market demand for the Potomac expansion project as demonstrated by the fact that Transco signed precedent agreements for all of the capacity of the proposed project. In addition, Transco's existing customers will not subsidize the project. There will be no degradation of service to Transco's existing customers or any adverse effects on existing pipelines or their customers. [And] adverse impacts on landowners and neighboring communities will be minimal," the FERC order said [CP06-421].

The precedent agreements require the LDCs to execute firm transportation agreements with 20-year primary terms, the order noted.

The expansion calls for the construction of 16.4 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline that would loop the pipeline's existing mainline system in Pittsylvania and Campbell counties in Virginia. In addition, the Williams' pipeline subsidiary plans to replace 3.4 miles of 30-inch diameter pipe with 42-inch diameter pipeline in Fairfax County, VA. Construction is expected to begin in May.

The expansion will allow for the delivery of additional gas supplies from Transco's interconnects with East Tennessee Natural Gas and Pine Needle LNG to interconnects with the three LDC systems in northern Virginia, Washington and Baltimore.

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