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Natural Gas Pipeline to New York City-Area Nearly Finished

Thu November 06, 2008 - Northeast Edition

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) A long-planned pipeline stretching across 182 mi. (292.9 km) of the state is to begin delivering natural gas to the New York City area in December, a month behind schedule.

The Millennium Pipeline will run from Corning in New York’s Southern Tier to Ramapo in suburban Rockland County, where it will tie into other lines and provide gas to area utilities.

The pipeline was first proposed in 1997 as a 425-mi. (684 km) link connecting gas supplies in Canada with the New York City market. Work was delayed for years by a combination of regulatory complications and local opposition. The plan was eventually retooled to the existing 182-mi. pipeline, 30 in. (76.2 cm) in diameter.

Construction on the pipeline is expected to finish Dec. 1 and gas will start flowing soon after, said Millennium spokesman Michael Armiak. There will be a compressor station in Corning, where Millennium will tie into another pipeline that brings natural gas down from Ontario.

Millennium said the pipeline can handle enough gas on a daily basis to meet the needs of about two million households.

“By introducing more supply options, it should make the prices more competitive with national averages,’’ Armiak said.

Armiak said Millennium also will be able to carry gas from wells and subterranean supply fields in western New York. That region has undergone a boom in gas exploration in the past decade and more wells could come online once exploration of the deep but plentiful Marcellus reserve gears up in New York.

Armiak said while the company is now focused on completing the pipeline, its capacity could be increased to handle production from Marcellus wells.

The pipeline is owned by subsidiaries of NiSource Inc., National Grid and DTE Energy Co. Millennium has long-term deals to provide gas to the utilities Consolidated Edison, KeySpan and Central Hudson.

Columbia Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of NiSource, will use the gas to serve its existing customers including, Orange and Rockland Utilities, Central Hudson and NYSEG.

Construction began in May 2007 and was expected to be finished by Nov. 1, but crews hit some snags. Wet weather this spring slowed crews down, work in environmentally sensitive areas took longer than anticipated, workers hit hard bedrock while drilling under water bodies in the Catskills region and the company had to wait for materials, Armiak said.

“There’s so much pipeline construction going on around the world the suppliers were behind schedule,’’ he said.

As of October, pipe was still going in the ground in Orange, Delaware, Sullivan, Broome and Tioga counties, while pipeline was being tested in Chemung and Steuben counties. Work also was continuing on the Corning compressor station.

Millennium is nearing completion as other plans to update New York’s energy infrastructure have faced difficulties. The governors of New York and Connecticut this year announced their opposition to a plan to build the world’s first floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound, and a proposed 190-mi. (305.7 km) long high voltage power line through upstate New York has been vehemently opposed by local residents.

Heather Briccetti, vice president of government affairs for the Business Council of New York State, felt the increased gas supply from Millennium would be beneficial.

“There’s certainly the market for it in the New York City area,’’ she said.

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