Natural Gas Storage Facility Plans Go Before Regulators

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Cook Inlet’s long-term energy prospects are beginning to look better as plans for a year-round natural gas storage facility went before state regulators Wednesday.

Semco, the owner of Enstar, Anchorage’s gas utility, and MidAmerican Energy have joined forces to apply for a certificate to build an underground system that, when filled, will make available 11 billion cubic feet of natural gas for the region.  The plan is to inject gas into the reservoir when demand is low during the summer and make it available when the need reaches a peak during the winter.

John Sims with Enstar says it will fill their expected supply gap.

Enstar will use 70 percent of the storage capacity while Chugach Electric and Municipal Light and Power will share the remaining 30 percent. It is designed to allow 150 cubic feet of gas per day to be taken out – far short of the total projected needs of the companies.

Both Enstar and MidAmerican say their plans came together as a result of the Cook Inlet Recovery Act that the legislature approved unanimously during this year’s session.  That measure was sponsored by Anchorage Republican Mike Hawker – co-chairman of the House Finance Committee.    He says the industry has known for a long time that storage was a critical element of meeting the region’s needs. But he agrees there is still work to do.

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