A hotly contested route alternative that calls for theCanada-to-New York Millennium Pipeline to be built within anelectric transmission system’s right-of-way (ROW) in WestchesterCounty, NY, is a “viable option” provided state regulators and thepipeline can work out the construction details, according to asupplemental draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) issued byFERC staff last week.
FERC staff’s suggested route option would move Millennium from apublic highway corridor (U.S. Route 9 and State Route 9A) parallelto an existing power line corridor of Consolidated Edison Co. ofNew York (ConEd) for approximately seven miles in WestchesterCounty, staff said.
Both ConEd and the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC)objected to the siting of Millennium in the power line corridor,saying that electric service to millions of New York residentscould be disrupted during construction and after the natural gaspipeline was in place. This prompted Millennium to propose a changein its route last June to incorporate the Route 9-9A route ratherthan the ConEd ROW.
But FERC staff said last week they thought routing Millenniumwithin the ConEd ROW was doable. “We believe that pipelineplacement on only one side and at a greater distance from the powerline may help alleviate many concerns about construction nearelectric lines and towers,” it noted in the supplemental DEIS.
If New York regulators can come to an understanding withMillennium on the construction activities adjacent to portions ofthe power line corridor, “then this alternative would help minimizeimpacts on several communities that had opposed the 9/9-A route,”staff concluded.
Millennium Chairman David Pentzien said he agreed that FERCstaff’s suggested alternative was a “viable routing option” for thepipeline project, and would “reach out” to New York regulatorsimmediately to discuss the routing option and other findings of thesupplemental DEIS.
As for Millennium’s proposed Route 9-9A proposal, the Commissionstaff said that while it would result in “short-term, locallysignificant unavoidable adverse environmental impact, it is anappropriate route for the proposed deliveries to [the pipeline’sterminus in] Mount Vernon, NY.”
The Millennium pipeline, which was proposed in December 1997,would bring about 714 MMcf/d of natural gas from Canada under LakeErie to the New York metropolitan area. Millennium still must get afinal environmental nod and certificate from FERC before it canbegin construction of the proposed 442-mile pipeline. Sponsors ofthe project are Columbia Gas Transmission, TransCanada PipeLines,Westcoast Energy and MCN Energy Group.
Long Island Pipe Projects Duke It Out
The battle for a new pipeline to serve Long Island, NY, heatedup this week as companies announced significant market support fortwo competing projects. Tennessee Gas Pipeline announced that itsConnecticut-Long Island (CT-LI) Lateral Project attracted requestsfor 1.6 Bcf/d of firm transportation capacity, while Duke EnergyGas Transmission and partner KeySpan said their Islander Eastpipeline drew 1.2 Bcf/d in shipper requests.
“The open season results reinforce market support for additionalcapacity to these regions,” said Tennessee President Stephen C.Beasley. Tennessee’s project, which is expected to add at least450,000 Dth/d of new firm capacity, would provide access to allinterstate natural gas pipelines in the New England region andwould serve multiple LDCs and new power plants in Connecticut andNew York. The proposed terminus of the lateral is in Suffolk Countyon eastern Long Island.
Beasley said the CT-LI Lateral received requests from utilitycompanies, marketers and power generation developers. “While themajority of the receipts were from the Dracut, we were also pleasedto see a significant interest in Niagara and Gulf Coast points aswell,” Beasley added.
Pat Whitty, managing director of Islander East, downplayed theopen season results. “[N]oms are cheap,” he said. “Noms can be gotfrom just about anybody. They are non-binding. I think in the olddays pipes used to put out press releases on their nominations, butthey really are meaningless until you get people to sign up.”
Whitty said Islander East would be built specifically for two orthree customers in contrast to the 14 companies that put inrequests during its open season. “Some of these other people arejust people that you get every time you have an open season,” hesaid. “They don’t want to miss out on an opportunity so they put itin because it is nonbinding. The second I send them a firm serviceagreement or a precedent agreement that will quickly weed themout.”
Nevertheless, Whitty said he was pleased that the project drewthe interest of so many, including LDCs, power generators andmarketers. “But I think the real market as we see it is the LDCload growth, specifically KeySpan there on Long Island, along withprobably one or two power generators. I think there’s only enoughroom for that type of project.”
The proposed 40-mile Islander East line is expected to carry250,000 Dth/d from an interconnection with DEGT’s Algonquin GasTransmission system in Connecticut to markets on Long Island.
“We’re sized at 250 MMcf/d and that’s probably appropriate,”said Whitty. “If we see that more than 250 MMcf/d needs to be doneout of the 1.2 Bcf/d that we got, we can easily size it at 400MMcf/d. That’s one of the advantages that Islander East has overTennessee. [Ours] is a much smaller project. It is a 40-milepipeline to connect Algonquin into the KeySpan facilities on LongIsland. If we need to do more than 250 MMcf/d we just addcompression. It’s easily expandable.”
Tennessee’s project comes off of its 300 leg, which is farthernorth than Islander East’s tie-in at Algonquin, he noted. “Theyneed more like 400 MMcf/d to 450 MMcf/d to make theirs happen at amarket rate equal to Islander East,” said Whitty. “That’s one bigadvantage that we have.” With a capital cost of $160 million,Islander East plans to charge a max rate of 27 cents/Dth.
Islander East also has KeySpan, the LDC on Long Island, as apart owner. “Right now [we have the advantage],” said Whitty. “TheKeySpan load is the primary driver.” Nevertheless, Whitty admittedKeySpan still has not signed a contract for any firm space onIslander East. “But I think the fact that they are a partner in theproject speaks volumes.” He expects KeySpan to take a significantportion of the Islander East capacity. The remainder probably willbe taken by power plants.
There are multiple power plants being considered for LongIsland. But two may be further along than the others. AmericanNational Power is considering building a 500 MW facility atBrookhaven, and AES is planning a plant at Calverton. PPL isplanning several peaking plants near Smithtown. Florida Power andLight also is looking into power plant construction, as is Calpine.
“Anybody who is a power player is looking to build a plant onLong Island,” said Whitty. Most of the plants are expected to beonline in 2004. “The big question is how much new power can theIsland support,” Whitty noted. “A lot of people think that one 500MW combined cycle plant would be all it could support. Others thinkmaybe 1,000 MW are doable. An amount that is somewhere in betweenprobably will be built on the Island. I feel very confident we aregoing to be building this pipe.”
Both Islander East and Tennessee’s Connecticut-Long Island pipeplan to be in service by November 2003.
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