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FERC: Independence's Compliance Plan May Jeopardize Certificate

FERC: Independence's Compliance Plan May Jeopardize Certificate

FERC staff warned Independence Pipeline Co. and ANR Pipeline last week that their certificate authority to build the much-maligned Independence project and associated SupplyLink expansion "could be in jeopardy" if they don't submit by May 1, 2001 the initial plans for how they intend to comply with Commission-imposed environmental requirements.

ANR and Independence had asked Commission staff to postpone the deadline for filing "technical information" related to their initial implementation plans until Feb. 1, 2002. They said this was necessary because they have to put off starting work on the remaining environmental field surveys until spring 2001. If FERC had issued its final order on the two projects sooner, the companies indicated they wouldn't have needed a delay.

"Your requests are inconsistent with your previous statements about the need to move quickly on this project," wrote Daniel M. Adamson, director of the FERC Office of Energy Projects, in his letter to the two pipeline companies. "ANR and Independence have been fully aware of the Commission's requirements for certification since the issuance of the interim order" last December, he said.

Given that the final decision on the Midwest-to-East Coast Independence pipeline and the associated SupplyLink expansion was issued last July, "ANR and Independence have had ample opportunity to continue consultations with permitting agencies regarding the projects. However, it appears that very little effort, if any, has been devoted to completing the environmental requirements of the order," Adamson said (see NGI, July 17). "I am disturbed that there has been so little apparent progress, particularly in light of the Commission's finding of need for this project."

Consequently, "I do not believe it is appropriate to defer the filing of your initial implementation plans until Feb. 1, 2002. Instead, I will require that you file these plans by no later than May 1, 2001," he noted.

"Please be aware that if ANR and Independence cannot comply with these terms then your certificate authority could be in jeopardy." Adamson also ordered Independence and ANR, which sponsors both Independence and SupplyLink, to file monthly status reports on their environmental permitting and land acquisition activities "so I can further monitor your progress."

In an Oct. 13 letter, staff criticized implementation plans filed earlier by ANR and Independence as being preliminary in nature and failing to disclose technical information that was required by the FERC orders. It also said the plans failed to provide the timetables and dates for completion of all required surveys and reports; the mitigation training of onsite personnel; the start of construction; and the start and completion of restoration activities.

FERC staff directed Independence and ANR to file the information in 20 days. The two pipeline companies submitted the project dates and timetables, but they requested an extension until February 2002 for filing the technical information.

By then, "Independence and ANR should have completed survey work and should have received required state and local agency input. Thus, Independence and ANR should be able, at that time, to file a final implementation plan which will include all of the technical information required," the companies told FERC, adding that this would allow for construction to begin May 1, 2002.

Independence and ANR have said they expect their projects to be completed and in service by November 2002. The Commission has allotted three years for Independence to be built and in operation, and two years for SupplyLink.

When completed SupplyLink, a 73-mile looping of ANR's existing system, and the 400-mile, 36-inch Independence line would be able to ship to East Coast markets about 1 Bcf/d of natural gas that will flow into the Midwest over Alliance Pipeline and Northern Border Pipeline's already-completed extension/expansion. Besides ANR, the other Independence sponsors are Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line and National Fuel Gas Co.

Susan Parker

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