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Millennium Has to Sweat it Out a Little Longer

Millennium Has to Sweat it Out a Little Longer

It looks as though Millennium Pipeline's long wait for a FERC ruling is going to last a little longer. Instead of getting a speedy Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), the pipeline must wait until FERC can examine its proposed route change in New York, Daniel M. Adamson, director of the Office of Energy Projects, told project sponsors.

Adamson turned down a request by Millennium to exclude the route change from its FEIS to speed up the process. The change was filed as an amendment to Millennium's application last week. Project sponsors now expect the pipeline to be in-service in November 2001, which is two years later than originally planned.

"We cannot issue an FEIS that does not evaluate the entire project," Adamson told Millennium's David Pentzien. "This would entail segmenting the analysis of the project and would be inconsistent with the Council on Environmental Quality regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)."

In March, Adamson requested a status report on the $650 million pipeline in light of criticism from New York regulators and comments made by NiSource Chairman Gary Neale about the project (see NGI, March 27and April 24). The 442-mile project would bring about 714 MMcf/d of gas from Canada under Lake Erie to the New York metropolitan area.

The New York Public Service Commission and the New York State Reliability Council opposed Millennium's proposed construction along Consolidated Edison's electric transmission right-of-way in Westchester County. The reliability council noted in filed comments that the 345 kV transmission corridor "happens to be the most important and most critical electric power interconnection between the major load center of New York City and the rest of the eastern interconnection." It has six 345 kV high voltage transmission lines and a total thermal capacity of 5,000 MW.

In a response to Adamson's letter, Millennium's Pentzien said an alternative route in Westchester County had been identified and may meet the PSC's safety concerns if certain mitigating measures identified by the PSC are adopted. He requested that the route change not hold up the FEIS.

The pipeline sponsors filed the revised route with the Commission last week. The agreed upon alternative route in Westchester County "would for the most part be located away from the power line right-of-way" of Consolidated Edison and would instead follow public highways and bike trails for most of its length.

Rocco Canonica

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