Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Update

By: Amanda L. Fitzhugh Porter, Esq.

Natural Gas Act Pipeline Maps

On November 20, 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued their Final Rule (“Rule”) pertaining to natural gas pipeline system maps under the Natural Gas Act, simplifying the  process of updating pipeline maps. The Rule, which aims to reduce the regulatory burden on the pipeline industry and enhance transparency, features two main changes:

  • The Rule permanently eliminates the requirement that pipelines include system maps in their tariffs, along with the requirement to file updated maps as part of their tariffs by the following April 30 for any year in which there is a major change in the pipeline’s system
  • The Rule  requires companies to update the[ir] online maps no later than the end of the next calendar quarter after a major system change

This Rule eliminates any regular requirements to update system maps with FERC. Instead, the burden shifts to simply maintaining a system map online and updating it on a quarterly basis. As a result, updated maps will be more readily available to FERC and will be easier to maintain without the added burden of additional filings and paperwork. The Rule was published in the Federal Register on December 17, 2014, and will go into effect on Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Algonquin Incremental Market Project and Abandonment in New London Approved

On March 3, 2015, FERC approved an application by Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC for authorization to construct and operate the Algonquin Incremental Market Project (“AIM”) in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. FERC also approved plans to abandon a meter and regulating station located in New London County, CT. The AIM Project will replace part of this facility. The overall plan is said to enable the delivery of 342,000 dekatherms per day of firm transportation service from Ramapo, NY, to various city gate delivery points throughout southern New England. FERC approved the project, with some conditions and additional filings, pursuant to the Natural Gas Act. The original application was filed on February 28, 2014, over a year prior to the approval.

Release of New Online Oil Pipeline Handbooks Resource

On March 3, 2015, FERC unveiled a new online resource devoted to Oil Pipeline Handbooks. The FERC Handbooks outline oil pipeline regulation under the Interstate Commerce Act, and contain relevant statutes, regulations, FERC decisions, and federal court decisions regarding oil pipeline matters. Although this resource is designed for FERC staff, it is a useful tool for anyone working with in the oil pipeline industry. This new resource can be accessed at: www.ferc.gov/industries/oil/indus-act/handbooks.asp.

Alaska Pipeline Report Released

In February 2015, FERC released its semi-annual Report to Congress on the Alaska Pipeline. The report is required under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Because FERC staff discontinued work on the Alaska natural gas pipeline pursuant to the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act and since the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Project was not funded for 2015, the report contained no new updates.

Amanda L. Fitzhugh Porter is an associate in the Energy Practice Group in Leech Tishman’s Pittsburgh office. If you would like more information on these FERC updates, please contact Amanda at (412) 261-1600 or aporter@leechtishman.com. Learn more about Leech Tishman’s Energy Practice Group here.

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