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TransCanada unit pushes to start construction on Leach, Rayne Xpress projects

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TransCanada unit pushes to start construction on Leach, Rayne Xpress projects

Columbia Pipeline Group Inc. asked FERC to give a pair of major projects permission to begin construction activities before February.

In two Jan. 23 letters to the commission, Columbia Gas Transmission LLC and Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC asked for the go-ahead from the Office of Energy Projects to begin certain project activities for their respective Leach Xpress project and Rayne Xpress expansion project. In both letters, the companies requested that FERC issue a notice to proceed with construction by Jan. 30. The pipeline companies fall under the Columbia Pipeline Group, which is a unit of TransCanada Corp.

FERC approved the projects in a certificate order on Jan. 19. The projects will transport Appalachian natural gas supplies to Midwest and Gulf Coast markets. Columbia Gas' approximately $1.52 billion Leach XPress project would provide over 1.5 million Dth/d of firm transportation service. Columbia Gulf's $173.7 million Rayne XPress expansion project will add compression to create an additional 621,000 Dth/d of north-to-south firm transportation capacity on its system.

The Leach project would need permission to begin certain construction activities by the end of January in order to comply with environmental conditions and meet the project's in-service date of November 2017. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made recommendations based off of the Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat and migratory bird conservation measures, according to the Columbia Gas letter.

The window when the Leach project can fell trees closes March 31. In the letter, Columbia Gas noted that it would only perform tree-felling activities for the sites in Monroe County, Ohio, where they had received permission from landowners.

The Rayne project would require a green light on construction by the same date so it can begin project environmental training and construction on Feb. 6. Columbia Gulf will begin building all aspects of the project, including the installation of two greenfield compressor stations on its transmission system and alterations to a measuring and regulation station. (FERC dockets CP15-514, CP15-539)