By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY January 31, 2006 Three years after work was originally slated to begin on the Millennium pipeline, the plan is back on the table.
Since the project was first introduced to the Sullivan County public back in 1998 at a meeting with the Upper Delaware Council, there have been a lot of changes, said Michael Armiak, head of economic development for Millennium, a company owned by Columbia Gas Transmission Corp., DTE Energy (a Detroit-based company) and KeySpan Energy (the old Brooklyn Union Gas).
Most importantly, there have been major hikes in the price of natural gas creating a greater demand for more service.
In 2003, when the pipeline was originally slated for construction, the prices were low, Armiak said, and there wasnt much demand for contracts that would have ensured Millennium funding.
So the pipeline was put off while other issues were worked out, including concerns in some areas that didnt want the pipeline coming through (places like Lake Erie and the Hudson River).
But natural gas prices are skyrocketing, and the need is growing, Armiak said.
New York State is heavily dependent on the Gulf Coast for its natural gas, Armiak explained. When the hurricanes hit, you felt the economic impact.
But the proposed pipeline will replace a smaller line that currently runs through Sullivan County, lines owned by Columbia Gas that were layed back in the 1940s.
Those lines are tapped out, Armiak explained.
Theres no room for economic development, he noted.
But the new line will be 30 inches in diameter, taking the volume sent down the line each day from 200,000 dekatherms to 500,000 dekatherms (the unit of measurement by which natural gas is bought and sold) about two and a half times the current capacity.
Phase One of the Millennium line will run from Corning in Steuben County to Ramapo, connecting energy suppliers in New York State to natural gas supplies in central and eastern Canada via the Empire State Pipeline.
That extra source should help economically, Armiak said.
This does help the Southern Tier, he noted.
Its not just a pipeline to New York City.
Locally, approximately 35 miles of line will be replaced in western and southern Sullivan County with no service interruptions.
Local energy suppliers, including NYSEG, that are currently connected to Columbias gas line will be able to take advantage of the Millennium line to serve their customers.
Construction is expected to begin in early 2007, going into service by fall of next year.
For more information, visit the company at its Website via computer: www.millenniumpipeline.com.