Court ruling could close gas pipeline; impact Spire gas service and rates

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ST. LOUIS – This plethora of pipe may not mean much to you in the middle of July, but its contents may be the nuts and bolts of how you heat your home come winter.

“You talk about last winter and winter storm Uri and that was a great example of the value of this pipeline. During that period, our customers saved up to $300 million because we were able to source gas through that infrastructure,” said Spire Missouri President Scott Carter.

The 65-mile natural gas pipeline could be shutdown, just two years after it was constructed. On June 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “failed to adequately balance public benefits and adverse impacts” in approving the Spire STL Pipeline, and failed to prove that it was really needed.

In response, FERC Chairman Richard Glick said the decision shows that when FERC cuts corners with its analysis, “it puts its decisions—and the investments made in reliance on those decisions—at substantial risk.”

“FERC follows a process. Whether that process was sufficient or not is something to be addressed,” Carter said. “The pipeline provided all the information requested. There was a formal vote taken of the commission which approved the pipeline. To the extent there’s issues now that need to be addressed, let’s address them and make sure we can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the value of that pipe and the value to our customers. So, let’s have that conversation.”

The Environmental Defense Fund filed a lawsuit challenging the pipeline. In a statement, it says, “The Court’s decision makes clear that FERC must carefully scrutinize contracts between pipeline developers and affiliated gas utilities. FERC’s failure to perform its statutory duties leads to a host of negative consequences for local communities, ratepayers, and the environment.”

The court ruling vacates FERC’s approval of the pipeline, but it’s still running while the regulatory commission reviews the court’s decision.

Spire’s Scott Carter fears the potential impact on customers gas service and wallets

“Worst case scenario, as we’ve modeled through it, is the potential in an extreme weather situation of the loss of service to up to 400,000 customers in the St. Louis region,” he said. “Unfortunately, our costs are our costs. That’s what gets passed on. We want that to be the lowest cost possible. We believe this pipeline is that.”

He’s ultimately optimistic the pipeline will prevail.

“We’re very hopeful this can be fixed when it’s remanded back to FERC and we can find a path forward that keeps that gas line in service,” Carter said.

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