The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Friday okayed the Nov. 18 start-up of the Patriot Project, the $298 million expansion and extension of Duke Energy’s East Tennessee Natural Gas system which connects to the newly-opened bedded salt natural gas storage facility in Saltville, VA.

Earlier in the week, Duke said it was ready to go and only needed to complete testing and commissioning activities and receive the final FERC approval. A Nov. 18 start-up would meet the schedule outlined last summer for the Patriot Extension (see NGI, April 7), a 24-inch line which begins at Duke’s East Tennessee Natural Gas system in Wythe County, VA and runs to a connection with Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line in Rockingham County, NC. The project also includes looping and additional compression along a 187-mile stretch of East Tennessee’s existing system.

“We continue to wrap up final construction and anticipate a Nov. 18 in-service date,” spokesperson Gretchen Krueger said Friday. The enhanced system “will provide additional markets for regional supplies from the Appalachian Basin” and also connect with Saltville. “It will give our customers more reliability and flexibility.”

Construction on the Patriot Project began in March. It will add 510,000 Dth/d of incremental pipeline capacity to the Mid Atlantic marketplace.

The Saltville Gas Storage facility, jointly owned by Duke and NUI Corp., and connected to East Tennessee, opened for business in August and expects to provide about 1 Bcf in working gas capacity this winter. The companies plan to add about 1 Bcf/year in working gas capacity to the high-deliverability facility until it reaches 6 Bcf in 2007, and then they will consider further expanding it to 12 Bcf.

Duke said in August that the delay and cancellation of two power plants along the pipeline route would not affect the construction of Patriot. At that time, Duke said it would delay bringing into service a 620 MW power plant in Virginia. A Cogentrix Energy unit announced earlier in August it was scrapping plans to build a 1,100 MW plant in the state (see NGI, Aug.18).

Numerous proposed power plants have been cancelled in the region. Earlier this month Dominion Resources said it was buying out its partner Piedmont Natural Gas and putting construction of the 279-mile Greenbrier Pipeline project in the same Mid Atlantic area, on hold because of lost market. That project is slated to provide 585 MMcf/d of firm transportation capacity. Dominion said it is not canceling the project, and would restart it at the appropriate time (see NGI, Nov. 10).

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