FERC Thursday approved Gulfstream Natural Gas System LLC's request to enlarge the diameter and extend the length of the planned Phase III expansion of its natural gas pipeline system in Florida.

Last August the pipeline, which is jointly owned by Spectra Energy and The Williams Cos., asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to amend an October 2003 order approving its Phase III project -- a 32.14 mile, 24-inch diameter extension of its current line. It wants the line to be 34.3 miles in length, extending from the pipeline's terminus in Martin County, FL, to Palm Beach County, and the diameter to be 30 inches [CP00-6-014]. The estimated cost of the modified facilities will be $129 million, according to Gulfstream.

Gulfstream requested the changes so that it can provide firm transportation service for Florida Power & Light Co.'s (FPL) proposed 2,200 MW greenfield power generation station in Palm Beach County, which is known as the West County Energy Center. FPL, the anchor shipper on the Phase III expansion, has executed an agreement for the entire expansion capacity (345,000 Dth/d) for a term of 23 years, Gulfstream said.

Under Gulfstream's agreement with FPL, 185,000 Dth/d will become available on July 1, 2008 to supply FPL's initial fuel needs for its proposed West County Energy Center. The full capacity of 345,000 Dth/d is expected to be available by June 1, 2009.

The October 2003 order required Gulfstream to complete and place the Phase III expansion facilities in service by Feb. 21, 2007. The latest order gives the pipeline until June 2009 to have the expanded facilities in service.

FERC also granted Gulfstream's request to modify its initial recourse rates for the Phase III expansion to reflect the updated capital cost estimate for the project. The revised capital cost estimate will result in lower Phase III initial rates than the initial rates originally approved by the Commission, Gulfstream said.

Placed into service in May 2002, Gulfstream is a 691-mile pipeline system with the capacity to deliver 1.1 Bcf/d of natural gas to meet Florida's growing natural gas demand. Gulfstream already serves the central and southeastern Florida markets. The Phase III expansion would push the pipeline farther into the southern part of the Sunshine State.

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