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FERC environmental assessment clears Tennessee Gas upgrade in Massachusetts

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff issued a positive environmental review of a Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.'s upgrade project in Hampden County, Mass., designed to provide an additional 72,400 Mcf/d of natural gas transportation capacity and to increase reliability for shippers.

In the May 17 review, FERC staff found the proposed project would not lead to significant environmental impacts if the Kinder Morgan Inc. pipeline company uses appropriate mitigation measures. Tennessee Gas said the 261 Upgrade project would increase firm gas transportation capacity on the existing 261B-100 pipeline and would help alleviate capacity constraints in New England.

FERC issued notices about the project to residents, landowners, elected officials, and federal and state agencies. In response, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office; the city of Northampton, Mass.; and Berkshire Environmental Action Teams questioned the public convenience and need for the upgrade. FERC environmental staff said it does not decide those issues but the full commission will.

Tennessee Gas submitted an abbreviated application for the project in October 2018. The company asked the commission for a final order granting authorization by Nov. 1, which would allow the project to go into service by Nov. 1, 2020, the in-service date requested by shippers.

The 261 Upgrade project would include a looping project, which would install a 2.1-mile section of 12-inch-diameter pipeline loop next to its 8-inch to 10-inch 261B-100 pipeline, and the horsepower replacement project. The horsepower replacement project would swap two older compressor units for a turbine compressor unit at compressor station 261, all in Agawam, Mass. The pipeline company has also reserved 45,400 Mcf/d of mainline capacity from its interconnect with the joint pipeline facilities of Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline LLC and Portland Natural Gas Transmission System LP at Dracut, Mass., to station 261.

The looping project and part of the horsepower replacement project, which together are known as the market component, would provide the projects' 72,400 Dth/d of new firm transportation capacity. The majority of that capacity, 45,400 Dth/d, would go to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts Inc. and the Holyoke Gas & Electric Department. In addition to the capacity subscribed by the shippers, the market component would create 27,000 Dth/d of incremental firm capacity from Tennessee's interconnection with Iroquois Gas Transmission System LP at Wright, N.Y., to the discharge of station 261. (FERC docket CP19-7)