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FERC Plan Highlights Fast Certificate Process

FERC Plan Highlights Fast Certificate Process

FERC intends to pursue several strategies over the next five years to facilitate gas pipeline development and "get gas where it's needed most," the Commission said in a draft strategic plan for fiscal years 2000-2005. One of its most important objectives is to "foster a regulatory environment that facilitates the responsible development of transportation capacity to meet potential increase in market demand for natural gas to 25 Tcf in 2005 and 30 Tcf in 2010," the draft stated.

FERC already has vowed to process cases more expeditiously. Two weeks ago, the Commission's Office of Energy Projects (OEP) announced plans to hold a series of public meetings throughout the nation to encourage interstate gas pipelines to develop "strategies for constructive public participation in the earliest stages" of their project planning. The first meeting is scheduled for Sept. 26 in Albany, NY. At least six public meetings are expected to be held this year.

Over the next few years FERC said it intends to reduce certificate completion time targets. It also intends to expand the way a pipeline can show market need for proposed facilities, shifting from relying mostly on precedent agreements and contracts to "other evidence of market need." FERC has shown greater deference to market needs by changing its preference to incremental from rolled-in rates, the draft noted.

To speed up certificate processing, the Commission also intends to increase the availability of information regarding new projects and rate changes to the industry and other affected parties, such as landowners. The Commission said during this year and next it will initiate and "outreach program" for prospective certificate applicants, customers, competitors and other potentially interested parties to "introduce the use and benefits of best practices and collaborative discussions." Results will be used to develop and ongoing outreach program.

The draft also stated FERC's intentions to increase reliance on electronic filings and information technology, and minimize environmental impacts of new pipeline construction by inspecting mitigation efforts prescribed in certificate authorizations. To get a copy of the draft visit FERC's web site at http://www.ferc.fed.us/public/strategic/strategicplan.htm

Rocco Canonica

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