FERC issues environmental finding on Guardian Pipeline

In a draft environmental impact statement released Tuesday, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission deemed the Guardian Pipeline project environmentally acceptable. This paves the way for future regulatory activity governing the proposed $238 million pipeline, which would take gas from the Chicago hub and transport it to northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin markets. If all approvals are given, the 750,000 dekatherm/day pipeline could come on stream by November 2002.


In a draft environmental impact statement released Tuesday, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission called the Guardian Pipeline project "environmentally acceptable." This paves the way for future regulatory activity governing the proposed $238 million pipeline, which would take gas from the Chicago hub and transport it to northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin markets. If all approvals are given, the 750,000 dekatherm/day pipeline could come on stream by November 2002.

FERC said the construction of the Guardian Pipeline would have limited environmental impact and is an "environmentally acceptable action."

FERC previously found in a preliminary determination issued June 16 that the pipeline is in the public interest, subject to the outcome of an environmental review. The draft impact statement is a significant step forward in the environmental review, say the Guardian partners.

The Guardian Pipeline partnership consists of CMS Energy Corp., Dearborn, Mich.; Wisconsin Energy Corp. affiliate WICOR, Milwaukee; and Northern States Power Co.'s wholly owned subsidiary Viking Gas Transmission, St. Paul.

The Guardian Pipeline would transport natural gas from interconnections with existing and planned pipelines at the Chicago hub near Joliet, Ill., to northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The project will consist of about 25,000 hp of compression and 141 miles of 36-in. pipe extending from Joliet to the Ixonia, Wis., area, with an additional 8.5 miles of 16-in. lateral pipe extending from the main Guardian line to near Eagle, Wis.

"As a result of the market's interest in the services that Guardian will offer, 94% of Guardian's 750,000 dekatherms/day of capacity for the pipeline's first 10 years of operation is already committed to firm contracts," said the partners in a statement.

"We're pleased that the FERC staff took such prompt action determining that Guardian would have limited environmental impact," said Todd Rushton, president of Viking Gas Transmission. "This action, taken 2 months ahead of the date requested in our application, is a major milestone toward making the Guardian Pipeline a reality."

FERC will take written public comments on the draft statement until Aug. 28, and will conduct four public meetings along Guardian's route starting Aug. 14. FERC will address the comments before issuing a final environmental impact statement on the project, expected early next year. A final decision on the Guardian Pipeline is expected by early 2001.

On June 30, 1999, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin gave preliminary approval for Wisconsin Gas to include a gas purchase agreement on the Guardian Pipeline in its gas supply plans. The agreement would allow Wisconsin Gas to transport 650 MMcfd of gas on Guardian when the pipeline goes in to service on Nov. 1, 2002.

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