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Millennium asks FERC to give it plenty of time for Eastern System upgrade

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Millennium asks FERC to give it plenty of time for Eastern System upgrade

Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expedite approval of the company's proposed 223,000-Dth/d Eastern System upgrade project for its natural gas transportation system, saying it could improve the situation for "utilities in pipeline-constrained New England."

In an Oct. 6 letter to the commission, Millennium said it would have a more difficult time building the Eastern System upgrade, expected to cost $275 million, if it does not soon receive an authorizing certificate order. Millennium is owned by Columbia Pipeline Group Inc., DTE Energy Co. and National Grid plc.

"The consequences of a compressed construction schedule include the risk of missing federally recommended tree clearing windows, difficult winter construction, and longer working days adding to potential safety and noise concerns for employees, contractors and landowners," Millennium Vice President Georgia Carter wrote in the letter. "Millennium can mitigate these risks if it promptly receives a certificate order."

FERC is catching up on business after six months without a voting quorum, and other pipelines have pushed the commission for action.

Millennium applied for the project on July 29, 2016. At the time, the company hoped to receive FERC authorization by the end of July 2017 in order to begin construction in the fall of 2017 and meet an in service date of September 2018. According to Millennium, over 90% of the project's capacity has been claimed in long term contracts with project customers.

"The Eastern System Upgrade project will provide approximately 223,000 dekatherms per day of firm natural gas transportation service to local distribution companies and municipalities in the region, including to utilities in pipeline-constrained New England," Carter said.

Carter said obtaining authorization was "now critical in order to construct the project and provide the required transportation service to local distribution companies and municipalities for the 2018 winter heating season."

The project has received a positive environmental review from FERC staff and has obtained permits and authorizations.

The project would include 7.8 miles, with 30-inch- and 36-inch-diameter pipeline loop between Millennium's Corning compressor station and an interconnect with Enbridge Inc.'s Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC system in Ramapo, N.Y. The project would also include a new 22,400-horsepower compressor station and upgrades at existing compressor stations. (FERC docket CP16-486)

Millennium's request came to FERC on the same day as a motion to intervene by the environmental group Riverkeeper against the company's Valley Lateral project. The group said its motion was late because the commission's decision to waive New York's authority over water quality certification was "not reasonably foreseeable."

On Oct. 3, FERC granted Millennium a one-year extension to complete the Valley Lateral, which will deliver 127,200-Dth/d to a proposed New York power plant. (FERC docket CP16-17)