A pipeline designed to meet growing demand in the Northeast United States has received federal approval to begin clearing land for the project.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized Constitution Pipeline Co. LLC on Jan. 29 to proceed with limited tree felling activities along its federally certificated pipeline right of way in Pennsylvania.
The proposed Constitution Pipeline involves the construction and operation of approximately 125 miles of 30-in. diameter pipeline from natural gas supply areas in northeastern Pennsylvania and connecting with existing transmission pipelines in Schoharie County, New York. The joint project is owned by subsidiaries of Williams Partners LP, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc. and WGL Holdings Inc.
The FERC authorization marks a significant milestone for the pipeline designed to transport enough natural gas to serve approximately 3 million U.S. homes.
“We appreciate the FERC’s prompt issuance of a limited Notice to Proceed for non-mechanized hand felling of trees in Pennsylvania,” the project sponsors said in a joint statement. “Although the commission has not yet authorized tree felling in New York, we are optimistic that authorization will come in order for the project to meet its 2016 in-service commitment while complying with the environmental conditions of the FERC order and the USFWS Biological Opinion.”
Approximately one-quarter of the trees planned to be felled are located within Pennsylvania, while the remaining trees are located in New York. Constitution Pipeline plans to begin limited tree felling activities in Pennsylvania as soon as its contractors and crews can be trained and deployed, finishing before March 31 to avoid adverse impacts to migratory birds and the northern long-eared bat. These activities will be subject to third party environmental monitoring. In coordination with state and federal agencies, Constitution Pipeline has agreed to voluntarily provide $8.6 million in conservation funding for the restoration and preservation of migratory bird habitats as a conservation measure.
Assuming timely receipt of all remaining permits, in addition to a full Notice to Proceed from FERC, Constitution Pipeline anticipates beginning mainline construction in the spring of 2016 in order to help meet growing natural gas demand in New York and New England during the fourth quarter of 2016.
Recently in Afton, New York, more than 300 people, including landowners, elected officials, business leaders, labor union members and community leaders, rallied in support of the pipeline project, highlighting the economic benefits the pipeline will deliver to New York, according to a Jan. 29 company statement. Construction of the project is estimated to directly and indirectly support 2,400 jobs and generate $130 million in labor income for the region. Once operational, the pipeline’s economic impact is anticipated to result in more than $13 million in local tax revenue and more than $600,000 in new income in the region.
In addition to serving markets in New England and New York City, Constitution Pipeline and Leatherstocking Gas Co. LLC have announced plans to install four delivery taps along Constitution’s proposed route to facilitate local natural gas service to homes and businesses in southern New York and northern Pennsylvania.
Once complete, the Constitution Pipeline will become a key piece of natural gas pipeline infrastructure in the Northeast, creating an important connection between consumers and reliable supplies of clean, affordable natural gas. Constitution will help address pipeline infrastructure issues that have exposed New England and New York consumers to periods of high natural gas prices and, significantly higher electric-generation costs. Constitution will also provide opportunities to improve regional air quality by using cleaner-burning natural gas in lieu of other fuels. The project is expected to be in service by the fourth quarter of 2016.