FERC has approved Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line’s request to amend its certificate to build an expansion that would create 165 MMcf/d of new firm transportation capacity to serve markets in the greater Washington, DC, and Baltimore metropolitan areas.

In mid-April, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave the go-ahead to Transco’s plans to build its proposed Potomac Expansion. The project includes 16.4 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline that would loop Transco’s existing mainline system in Pittsylvania and Campbell counties in Virginia, as well as the replacement of 3.4 miles of 30-inch diameter pipe with 42-inch diameter pipeline in Fairfax County, VA (see NGI, April 16).

But due to strong opposition from a homeowners association in Fairfax County, Transco in August proposed amending its certificate to eliminate an above-ground pig receiver on a strip of land owned by the Virginia Run Community Association (VRCA). The VRCA already has two 30-inch diameter Transco pipelines (Lines A and B) and one 36-inch diameter pipe (Line C) on its property, and objected to the addition of above-ground facilities.

Transco instead proposed, and FERC approved, installing just a pig launcher and associated valves this year, as well as the proposed pipeline facilities and a temporary 20-inch tap valve. The pipeline proposes to replace the temporary tap in 2008 with an underground piggable “Y” that would connect Lines B and A. The first phase of the project is targeted for in-service this year. The second phase, including the piggable “Y,” is due to go into operation in October 2008.

A pipeline “pig” is a device that is used to clean or inspect a pipeline. An above-ground pig launcher or receiver is a facility where pigs are inserted into or retrieved from the pipeline.

As a result of the changes, Transco said the cost of the Potomac expansion project would rise to $87.7 million from its original estimate of $73.6 million, prompting an increase in rates for service on Phases I and II as well. FERC approved the higher project cost and the proposed hike in rates [CP06-421].

The Potomac expansion project is intended to alleviate the capacity constraints in the Mid-Atlantic region. It would supply natural gas to the customers of three local distribution companies (LDC) — Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Columbia Gas of Virginia and Washington Gas Light Co. The entire capacity of the project has been subscribed under 20-year terms.

The project would allow for the delivery of additional gas supplies from Transco’s interconnects with East Tennessee Natural Gas and Pine Needle LNG to interconnects with the three LDC systems in northern Virginia, Washington and Baltimore.

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