ST. LOUIS – The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee met Thursday. Among the items on its agenda, the Spire STL natural gas pipeline. For St. Louis area residents concerned there won’t be enough natural gas to heat their homes this winter, this meeting did little to put their minds at ease.
FERC commissioners talked about the pipeline but didn’t use Thursday’s meeting to issue another temporary certificate to keep the pipeline open.
“We’ve heard a lot of fear-mongering lately, much of it coming from Spire itself, that residents of St. Louis are going to lose their natural gas service this winter. I think it’s important to turn down the rhetoric and examine the facts,” said FERC Chairman Richard Glick.
“I do think that it’s not appropriate to wave away people’s genuine concerns about whether their service will be interrupted,” added FERC Commissioner James Danly.
In June, a federal court vacated FERC’S 2018 approval of the 65-mile natural gas pipeline. The court ruled FERC “failed to adequately balance public benefits and adverse impacts.” The court also questioned the pipeline’s necessity.
“If I read in a newspaper one day that a federal court had revoked the permit for my gas supplier to supply my home with gas, I’d be very worried. I’m sure there are a lot of people in St. Louis who are very worried because they read about a federal court revoking their gas supplier’s permit.” Said FERC Commissioner Mark C. Christie.
Spire addressed its growing concern during a news conference late last week.
“We’re going to do everything we can to minimize that risk, but until we get assured about it, the risk exists, and our job is to make sure we’re planning for.” Said Spire President Scott Carter.
“There is no certainty past December 13th that this pipeline will continue to operate.” Added Spire Attorney Sean Jamieson.
But in Thursday’s meeting, the FERC indicated an answer on the pipeline’s immediate future could be coming soon.
“It’s my intent for the Commission to act on Spire’s application for a temporary certificate before the expiration of the current certificate on December 13th.” Said Glick.
“From a practical matter, we need to keep that system operating until these issues can be litigated. I also think we need to eliminate any future uncertainty.” Added Christie.
Spire responded in a statement that reads in part: “We are encouraged by the commissioners’ statements committing to act on this matter before the expiration of the current 90-day temporary certificate. However, today we still lack the certainty of an official order – free of conditions – authorizing continued operations for the full winter heating season.”
With the current FERC certificate set to expire in a little more than three weeks, we’ll continue to follow this story for you.