No major headway was made in resolving the jurisdictionalchallenges associated with the proposed TriState Pipeline projectduring a FERC technical conference on Tuesday, according to a majorsponsor of the project.

“No firm resolution or outcome was achieved. All the optionsthat we discussed have timing, tax and regulatory considerationsattached to them,” said Kelly Farr, a spokesman for CMS Energy,parent of sponsor CMS Gas Transmission and Storage. FERC staff isto report back to the Commission on the outcome of the conferencewithin 30 days.

The Commission called the conference for staff and TriStateofficials to explore options – other than those that had beenproposed by FERC previously – that would cure the overlap in stateand federal jurisdictions posed by the TriState application.

In their filing, TriState sponsors – CMS Gas and WestcoastEnergy – proposed leasing 123 miles of Hinshaw pipeline facilitiesfrom CMS affiliate Consumers Energy, with the leased line beingoperated by Consumers and performing a “dual use” role as bothinterstate and intrastate transporter. Under the proposal, theleased facilities would be subject to the dual jurisdiction of bothFERC and Michigan regulators.

But FERC rejected the “dual use” strategy in a May 27th order,finding instead that the leased line as proposed would be subjectentirely to Natural Gas Act (NGA) jurisdiction. It has put theTriState project on hold until the overlap in jurisdictions can beworked out.

In the May order, the Commission recommended three alternativesfor solving the jurisdictional conundrum, but TriState sponsorssaid these would take too long to incorporate and could threatenthe competitive stance of its project. TriState is in a race withVector Pipeline to serve the burgeoning Northeast gas market viathe Chicago-to-Dawn Hub route. Vector already has gotten finalapproval from FERC, and is expected to begin construction laterthis year. TriState has yet to receive preliminary determination.

“Time is of the essence if TriState is to move forward. We hopeto hear from FERC positively on TriState in the near future,” Farrsaid. The pipeline’s sponsors still are convinced that TriState’sfiling poses no jurisdictional overlap. It “clearly and lawfullydelineates the respective jurisdictions of the Commission and theMichigan Public Service Commission.”

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