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CINGSA storage project on track again

Posted: Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has removed one hurdle from Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage Alaska's effort to get approval for a natural gas storage facility on the peninsula.

In a Dec. 30 order, the commission said that CINGSA was no longer responsible for getting rights to develop the Sterling C Gas Storage Pool by Dec. 30, 2010, a deadline set in the commission's Dec. 16 order that granted conditional approval of the project. Marathon Oil Company has the rights in question. CINGSA said previously that approval as a public utility, a step they hope will happen this month, would make it easier for the entity to get those rights.

ENSTAR spokesman John Sims said the change meant the project was back on track to receive final approval of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. But the order specified that additional orders would follow, so Sims wasn't sure what other obstacles might appear in the company's path.

"We are positive, but again we're waiting to hear," he said.

The only order so far was released on Jan. 3, and denied a petition on behalf of Inlet Entities to intervene in the proceedings. Inlet Entities opposed CINGSA's petition to have the Dec. 30 condition removed.

The Dec. 30 order said that the hearings scheduled for Jan. 7 and Jan. 10-14 would go forward as planned. Sims said the hearings would be regarding the company's rates and tariffs, as well as whether or not CINGSA is a public utility.

CINGSA, ENSTAR, and a number of utilities including Homer Electric Association protested the Dec. 16 order that created the Dec. 30 condition.

CINGSA, a subsidiary of ENSTAR's parent company Semco Energy, is going through the permitting process for a natural gas storage facility in the Cannery Loop area that would be injected with natural gas when gas is at peak production so that producers could use that gas in the winter, when energy demands are higher than natural gas supplies.

Alaska Electric and Energy Cooperative, HEA's subsidiary, recently signed on as a customer of CINGSA. The utility uses natural gas at their Nikiski power plant, and anticipates using CINGSA's stored gas when needed after the facility comes online, said HEA's Joe Gallagher.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com.



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