FERC Gets Quorum and New Acting Chairman

Joseph McMonigle

First business meeting set for September 20. NEXUS Natural Gas Pipeline leads the list of backlog of projects awaiting approvals.

New FERC Commissioner Robert Powelson, formerly of the Pennsylvania Utility Commission and former President of NARUC, was sworn last Thursday, giving the Commission a quorum for the first time in six months.

In addition, President Trump tapped Commissioner Neil Chatterjee, former energy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to be the new Acting Chairman for the next two months or so to replace current Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur, who is a Democrat minority commissioner appointed by President Obama.

FERC could soon have a full roster of commissioners by October as the President also formally nominated on August 2 Republican Kevin McIntyre to be Commission Chairman as well as Democrat Richard Glick for the remaining two vacancies on the commission.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is expected to hold a confirmation hearing for both McIntyre and Glick on September 7, with expedited confirmation votes in committee and by the full Senate by late September or early October.

Acting Chairman Chatterjee announced on Thursday that FERC will hold its next regular business meeting on September 20, at which project approval and other decisions are announced. However, due to the backlog of projects now awaiting FERC consideration, we believe that project approval announcements are likely even before the September 20 business meeting.

Leading the list of projects to get approved is the $2 billion, 1.5 Bcf/d NEXUS natural gas transmission pipeline in Michigan and Ohio by joint developers Spectra Energy Partners (SEP) and DTE Energy (DTE). Before FERC lost its quorum in February, it had approved seven projects in the pipeline with NEXUS believed to be the next in line to be advanced. The project was slated for completion by the end of 2017 and is now looking at a 2018 in-service date as a result of the FERC delays.

Other projects in the immediate backlog awaiting approval include:

PennEast Natural Gas Pipeline—a $1 billion, 1 Bcf/d project in Pennsylvania and New Jersey by developers: Spectra Energy Partners (SEP), UGI Energy Services (UGI), Southern Gas Company (SO), SJI Midstream (SJI), and NJR Pipeline Company (NJR).

Atlantic Coast Pipeline—a $5.5 billion, 1.5 Bcf/d project in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina by developers: Dominion Energy (D), Duke (DUK), Southern Gas Company (SO), and Piedmont Natural Gas (PNY).

Mountain Valley Pipeline—a $3.5 billion, 2 Bcf/d project in West Virginia and Virginia by developers: EQT Midstream Partners (EQM) 45.5%, NextEra U.S. Gas Assets (NEE) 31%, Con Edison Transmission (ED) 12.5%, WGL Midstream (WGL) 10%, and RGC Midstream 1%.

Mountaineer Xpress—a $2 billion, 2.7 Bcf/d project by TransCanada (TRP) in West Virginia.

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