FERC has given the green light for PG&E and Avista to moveforward on an investigation into the potential development of a newnatural gas storage facility in Eastern Washington near theStanfield Hub.

Stanfield Hub Services, LLC, a joint venture of PG&E andAvista, have been working on the project since early 1999 and saidthey will continue to move forward in light of encouraging initialtest results and a positive regulatory ruling from FERC, whichgranted their request for an exemption from Section 7 certificaterequirements in order for further testing to be conducted at thesite.

“The need for natural gas continues to grow in the region,” saidPG&E Corp.’s Peter Lund, vice president, pipeline marketing anddevelopment. “A viable natural gas storage facility accessible toboth Northwest and California markets would play a vital role inhelping to meet this need.”

Since announcing the project last spring, the two companiesobtained leases and drilling permits from the Bureau of LandManagement and drilled two wells to test the layered basalt geologyat the Benton County aquifer. The results revealed zones thatwarrant additional testing, which will require drilling at leastsix more wells and conducting hydrogeologic and water chemistrytesting on the additional wells. If the tests are successful, thecompany intends to apply to the Commission for a Section 7ccertificate. The tests are expected to last about 90 days, andsubsequent activities will depend on their results.

The Stanfield Storage Project is located across the ColumbiaRiver from Stanfield, Ore. It is strategically close to PG&ENational Energy Group’s pipeline interconnect with Williams(Northwest Pipeline Corp.), several existing and proposed majorpower plant developments, and regional electric transmissionfacilities. The project developers say this location is emerging asa regional energy hub, making it ideal for a natural gas storagearea.

“The Stanfield gas storage project shows great promise for ourcompany, our customers and the region, and we are moving ahead withit,” said Roger Woodworth, Avista Corp. vice president of corporatedevelopment, “but we will only seek final regulatory approvals ifthe Stanfield project is determined to be fully feasible.”

The region has very few storage facilities because ofunfavorable geology. Avista is part owner with Williams of theJackson Prairie underground storage aquifer in western Washington,which recently underwent an expansion. The only other storagefacility in the region is Northwest Natural Gas’s Mist (OR)facility 50 miles northwest of Portland. It also is being expanded,with increases in capacity and deliverability planned in each ofthe next seven years.

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