After years of bickering, protests and heated controversy, Guardian Pipeline has been completed and is scheduled to begin delivering natural gas supplies to northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin markets before mid-December, says a spokesman for CMS Energy, a partner in the pipeline. But there is one glitch.

Milwaukee, WI-based We Energies, the biggest customer of Guardian and a partner in the line as well, has yet to start construction on a 35-mile lateral to receive gas from the new pipeline. The company cited delays with permitting in Wisconsin and equipment problems as the reasons. It plans to begin building the lateral in the spring of 2003, and to have it in service by fall.

In the meantime, We Energies spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the company intends to take about one-third of the gas that it contracted for on Guardian at an existing point at Bluff Creek in southern Wisconsin, which connects to We Energies’ gas distribution system. We Energies has subscribed to approximately 650 MMcf/d of the 750 MMcf/d firm capacity to be created by the Guardian system, she noted.

Mid-December is “as close as they can come right now” for the start-up date of Guardian, said CMS spokesman John Barnett. The sponsors will have a more precise date when they return after the Thanksgiving Day weekend, he noted.

The 142-mile Guardian pipeline, which was certificated by FERC in March 2001, will introduce pipeline-on-pipeline competition into a region that has long been dominated by ANR Pipeline. ANR was at the forefront of the efforts to defeat the Guardian project, while a coalition of Wisconsin businesses and then-Gov. Tommy Thompson lobbied in support of the line (See NGI, Sept. 13, 1999).

The 36-inch diameter Guardian line will extend from the Chicago Hub near Joliet, IL, through the northern half of the state into southern Wisconsin, terminating at Ixonia, WI, delivering gas from interconnections with Alliance Pipeline, Northern Border, Midwestern Gas Transmission and Natural Gas Pipeline of America.

The sponsors of the $224 million pipeline include CMS Energy, Viking Gas Transmission and We Energies.

©Copyright 2002 Intelligence Press Inc. Allrights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republishedor redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without priorwritten consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.