FERC announced yesterday it wants to hold a half-day publicconference Sept. 29 to address the “steady flow” of Congressionalinquiries into the Independence and MarketLink pipeline projects.The conference will be used to gather “supplemental information” onthe projects, but the Commission said it does not intend to reopenthe record on them.

Nevertheless, it is becoming a real nail-biter for projectsponsors. If the projects are not approved by this fall, sponsorssaid they will be hardpressed to meet their in-service dates ofNovember 2000. A Williams spokesman said the company, which is asponsor in both projects, sees “no reason to believe this[conference] will delay the timing of the certificate.” He noted,however, that “all of our business planning has been done based ona fall certificate. If we don’t get it this fall, adjustments willhave to be made.”

The Independence and MarketLink projects, which FERC considersone $1.2 billion system designed to bring about 1 Bcf/d of gas fromDefiance, OH, (ultimately from Chicago through interconnectionswith other pipes) to New York City, amount to nearly 800 miles ofnew pipeline and looping. It’s clearly going to take every bit oftime available to meet their deadlines.

FERC made no mention of the competing Millennium project,indicating that heavy political and landowner pressure onIndependence and MarketLink could be giving Millennium the edge.Millennium would extend from a connection with TransCanada in LakeErie to New York City. Despite the Commission’s earlier decision togroup the projects and examine them, leading observers to wonderwhether they may be combined, it now appears the Commission couldbe favoring Millennium over the others.

©Copyright 1999 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. Thepreceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, inwhole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent ofIntelligence Press, Inc.