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PG&E, Avista Moving Forward on Stanfield Storage

PG&E, Avista Moving Forward on Stanfield Storage

FERC has given the green light for PG&E and Avista to move forward on an investigation into the potential development of a new natural gas storage facility in Eastern Washington near the Stanfield Hub.

Stanfield Hub Services, LLC, a joint venture of PG&E and Avista, has been working on the project since early 1999 and said it will continue to move forward in light of encouraging initial test results and a positive regulatory ruling from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which granted its request for an exemption from Section 7 certificate requirements in order for further testing to be conducted at the site.

"The need for natural gas continues to grow in the region," said PG&E Corp.'s Peter Lund, vice president, pipeline marketing and development. "A viable natural gas storage facility accessible to both Northwest and California markets would play a vital role in helping to meet this need."

Since announcing the project last spring, the company obtained leases and drilling permits from the Bureau of Land Management and drilled two wells to test the layered basalt geology at the Benton County aquifer. The results revealed zones that warrant additional testing, which will require drilling at least six more wells and conducting hydrogeologic and water chemistry testing on the additional wells. If the tests are successful, the company intends to apply to the Commission for a Section 7c certificate. The tests are expected to last about 90 days, and subsequent activities will depend on their results.

The Stanfield Storage Project is located across the Columbia River from Stanfield, OR. It is strategically close to PG&E National Energy Group's pipeline interconnect with Williams (Northwest Pipeline Corp.), several existing and proposed major power plant developments and regional electric transmission facilities. The project developers say this location is emerging as a regional energy hub, making it ideal for a natural gas storage area.

"The Stanfield gas storage project shows great promise for our company, our customers and the region, and we are moving ahead with it," said Roger Woodworth, Avista Corp. vice president of corporate development, "but we will only seek final regulatory approvals if the Stanfield project is determined to be fully feasible."

The region has very few storage facilities because of unfavorable geology. Avista is part owner with Williams of the Jackson Prairie underground storage aquifer in western Washington, which recently underwent an expansion. The only other storage facility in the region is Northwest Natural Gas's Mist (OR) facility 50 miles northwest of Portland. It also is being expanded, with increases in capacity and deliverability planned in each of the next seven years.

Rocco Canonica

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