After years of fits and starts, Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC has begun construction of its 182-mile long, 30-inch diameter pipeline across New York's Southern Tier and the lower Hudson Valley, the company said Friday.

"This is the day we have been working toward for many years," said Dick Leehr, president of Millennium. "Through the cooperation and support of our anchor customers, numerous federal and state regulatory agencies, labor unions, local governments and owners, we have now reached this major milestone for new infrastructure within New York State."

The Millennium pipeline will transport up to 525,400 Dth/day when it goes in service in November, 2008. The project will be constructed over the next two years, with some restoration work extending into 2009. Construction costs have been pegged at $664 million. Portions will be installed across federal jurisdictional wetlands, waterways and beneath navigable waters.

"Safety, reliability and sensitivity to the environment are our highest priorities during the construction process," said Ken Austin, Millennium general manager. "These objectives will serve as guidelines from the day the first shovel of dirt is turned over to the final steps of pipeline installation in 2008 and through restoration in 2009."

The pipeline is anchored by KeySpan Energy Delivery Long Island, Consolidated Edison of New York, Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corp. and Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. Millennium is jointly owned by affiliates of NiSource Inc., KeySpan Corp. and DTE Energy.

Plans for the Millennium pipeline were forced to clear a series of hurdles since the company first 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 Daily GPI, Dec. 17, 2003). The project floundered for several years until it was revised and scaled down. Earlier this month Millennium received two major environmental approvals from New York officials, paving way for construction of the pipeline (see Daily GPI, June 4). The project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in late December 2006 (see Daily GPI, Dec. 22, 2006).

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