FERC approves Leidy South gas pipeline project to fuel power in Atlantic states

Map courtesy Williams.

Natural gas infrastructure firm Williams gained federal regulatory approval for a pipeline project bringing gas for home heating and power generation in the Atlantic Seaboard region.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave permission to proceed with the Leidy South Project which will deliver 582,400 dekatherms per day–enough to serve more than two million homes–of additional pipeline takeaway from the gas-rich Marcellus and Utica shale regions of Pennsylvania. Tulsa-based Williams says the project will help utilities convert from coal-fired power capacity to natural gas, which has half the carbon emissions.

“As the United States switches to clean power to energize our electric grids, Williams is excited and proud to be the backbone that connects the best supplies of dry gas with our country’s largest demand centers,” said Alan Armstrong, president and CEO of Williams. “This project represents one of many opportunities to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions with right here, right now available solutions as coal-fired electric generation plants are replaced with natural gas units to reliably balance the intermittency of new renewable resources.”

Rendering of proposed compressor station. Courtesy Williams.

The Leidy South would basically use the same corridor as the company’s interstate Transco pipeline system in that area, so it would reduce the amount of new infrastructure and land use needed. Transco is the nation’s largest-volume interstate natural gas pipeline system, delivering natural gas through a 10,000-mile pipeline network whose mainline extends nearly 1,800 miles between South Texas and New York City.

Williams added that there are still more than 80 coal-fired power plants in the states served by the Transco pipeline system. Natural gas fuels more than 35 percent of the nation’s electricity generation mix, while coal has dropped from its once preeminent position to about 25 percent amidst a growing number of plant retirements.

Cabot Oil & Gas and Seneca Resources will be producing the natural gas connecting to the Leidy South expansion. Atlantic Seaboard states form one of the fastest growing gas generation regions in the U.S., according to BTU Analytics.

Environmental challengers, however, have forced the cancellation of Duke and Dominion’s planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline which would have crossed the Appalachian Trail. The two utilities said the cost of legal challenges make the already multi-billion-dollar project uneconomical for them.

Williams says the construction phase will create more than 600 jobs, while operations will support $4.2 million in annual economic impact for origin state Pennsylvania.

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