Islander East Pipeline Co. LLC and Algonquin Gas Transmission Co. have asked FERC for a one-year extension to complete construction of their companion pipeline projects in light of the hurdles that Islander East has faced in obtaining state permits for its Connecticut-to-Long Island natural gas line.

“Because of [the] delays in receiving these approvals, Islander East and Algonquin have been unable to commence construction of the project and will be unable to complete construction by Sept. 19, 2004,” as required by FERC’s certificate order, the companies said in a July 15 letter to FERC. They requested that the completion date for the companion facilities be pushed back to Sept. 19, 2005.

“The project has been delayed by factors beyond [our] control,” Islander East and Algonquin noted, but they believe “there continues to be a real need for the gas that would be transported by the project.”

Islander East, which is jointly sponsored by Duke Energy and KeySpan, currently is awaiting a decision from Superior Court in New Britain, CT. The pipeline company in June petitioned the court to force Connecticut environmental regulators to issue a water quality permit that would clear the way for the construction of the 50-mile natural gas line (see NGI, June 28). The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) denied Islander East’s request for a Section 401 water quality permit in February.

The legal action was the latest volley in an ongoing battle between Islander East and the state of Connecticut over the proposed pipeline that would supply natural gas to the New York City area.

The state of Connecticut initially tried to halt the Islander East pipeline project by claiming it was inconsistent with its Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) statute, which gives states the right to block projects deemed detrimental to their coastal areas. But Commerce Secretary Donald Evans in May overruled the state’s decision (see NGI, May 10). The state now is withholding the water quality permit to prevent construction of the pipeline.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in June said he would oppose the pipeline’s request to Superior Court. “Every regulatory action taken by DEP to prohibit this environmental disaster has been lawful and proper. I will vigorously defend the denial of the required permits and authorizations for this project,” he said at the time.

Islander East also is awaiting a Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which it said it expects will be issued “in due course.”

The pipeline project, if built, initially would deliver 285,000 Dth/d of natural gas from New Haven, CT, across Long Island Sound to Suffolk County (Long Island) near Yaphank, NY. Additionally, Algonquin, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, would loop about 13.7 miles of existing pipeline in Connecticut and add a new compressor station in Cheshire, CT. Approximately 90% of the Islander East pipeline land route would be located along existing corridors.

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