With a five-year, $14 billion capital investment plan in place that is more than 90% covered in its current and future utility rates, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is wide-eyed over the potential growth in Pacific Northwest electric and natural gas projects that are not yet included in the current investment plans, CFO Christopher Johns said Wednesday at the Lehman Brothers Energy/Power Conference in New York City.
Both the $1 billion, 230-mile, 36-inch diameter Pacific Connector natural gas pipeline in Oregon (see related story) and the study of a possible $4-6 billion 500-kV transmission line in the region going into British Columbia are what Johns highlighted as “potential upsides” beyond the utility’s massive utility infrastructure building program within California.
The proposed pipeline, in which PG&E wold have a one-third interest, would connect the proposed Jordan Cove Energy Project LP liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal at Coos Bay, OR, to the West Coast interstate gas pipeline systems running north into Washington state and south into California. An open season earlier in the year turned up a nonbinding interest in nearly 1.5 Bcf, Johns said.
He noted that the pipeline project announced Wednesday had just begun what is expected to be a 12-month Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) review process. “This is a billion-dollar project in which we would own about one-third, and the project continues to move forward,” Johns said.
The other area of potential growth is covered currently by a $14 million cost-benefits study the utility has embarked on with regulatory approval to look at the feasibility of building a major high-voltage transmission line between the San Francisco Bay are and British Columbia to access renewable energy and hydroelectric power supplies that are increasingly being developed in that part of Western Canada.
“It could be anywhere from a $4 billion to $6 billion project, and we most likely would not be a sole owner of that project,” Johns said. “That is something we will be looking at over the next year.”
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