Officials Worried About TransCanada Missing October 2012 Proposal Deadline

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Alaska lawmakers say Federal Energy Regulatory Commission officials are worried TransCanada might miss an October 2012 deadline to submit an application to build a natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48.

TransCanada, which is working with Exxon, was granted a state license and the promise of $500 million in state subsidies under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. The state anticipates paying TransCanada more than $100 million by July.

Legislators in Washington DC this week for the annual Energy Council Conference discussed the project with the head of FERC. Fairbanks Senator Joe Paskvan says he’s concerned about delays in some application pre-filings.

But Larry Persily, federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects, says the most important thing for TransCanada is submitting the application by October 2012. Even if it isn’t complete by then, Persily says the project will still be fine. FERC will have a year to do a draft environmental impact statement for the project once the completed application is submitted.

State House Speaker Mike Chenault of Nikiski introduced legislation this session to scrap AGIA on the presumption that TransCanada hasn’t been able to attract enough interest in the project from oil and gas shippers. So far the company has not released details of its open season process last year, when it sought shipping commitments. Senate Finance Committee Co-Chair Bert Stedman of Sitka says he’d rather give the process another year.

Nearly half of the legislature is in Washington this week for the Energy Council, which brings together lawmakers from energy producing states. Some critics say the annual trip is a waste of money and prevents the legislature from working on important issues during the session. Alaska will host an Energy Council conference in September in Anchorage.

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