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FERC OKs Constitution Pipeline timeline extension, recognizing New York delay

Awareof a delay caused by an unfavorable New York permitting decision, FERC wastedlittle time in granting a Constitution Pipeline Co. LLC request for more timeto build its 650,000-Dth/d Pennsylvania-to-New York natural gas pipelineproject.

The extensiongives the company until Dec. 2, 2018, to put the pipeline in service.The company had already pushedback the in-service date in a March announcement from the fourthquarter of 2016 to the second half of 2017.

FERCDivision of Pipeline Certificates Director John Wood granted the request in aJuly 26 letter, less than two business days after the request was filed. Woodrecognized that the New York decision "has caused the ConstitutionPipeline project to be delayed, and, as a result, Constitution will not be ableto complete construction of the project within the prescribed time frame."

InApril, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to issue Constitution aClean Water Act certificate for the part of the project in New York. In May,Constitution challenged the New York decision in federal appealscourt.

"[T]heNYSDEC's decision has caused the project to be delayed, and, as a result,Constitution will not be able to complete construction of the project withinthe twenty-four month time limitation prescribed by the [FERC approval]order," Stephen Hatridge, vice president and assistant general counsel atWilliams Cos. Inc.,wrote in a July 22 letter asking FERC for the extension.

Theextension request was submitted by Williams Pipeline Services LLC, the operatorof Constitution Pipeline. The 124-mile Constitution project, expected to cost$683 million, is a joint project of Williams Partners LP, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc. and

Hatridgepointed out that FERC has granted extensions of construction deadlinesestablished in its approval orders if there is a good reason to do so. Heargued that there is reason in this case because Constitution made every effortto get the necessary permits, including working with New York to obtain thewater quality certificate, and it "continues to diligently pursue allavailable legal remedies." The project is still needed by customers andthe public, he said. FERC approved the Constitution pipeline in December 2014.

"Constitutionremains committed to constructing this important energy infrastructure andplacing the project into service as soon as possible," Hatridge said inthe letter.

Earlierin July, FERC deniedNew York's request for a stay of the project while the commission looks into astate complaint that Constitution is responsible for  the improper cutting of trees along theproposed route. (CP13-499)