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FERC accedes to INGAA on compressor noise.

FERC made some changes to its final rule, published last January, which expands blanket certificate authority for transmission lines, and raises the dollar ceiling on projects which qualify for blanket certificates and for a second category, prior authorization. Liberalizing the blanket certificate and prior authorization requirements allowed FERC to make it easier for interstate pipelines to move forward on smaller projects much more quickly.

But INGAA filed a request for rehearing, arguing that different parts of Order 686 ought to be revised. INGAA's concerns had to do with new restrictions on compression station noise, landowner notification timeframes, facilities that transport revaporized LNG from an LNG import terminal, abandonment authority and annual reports.

The noise issue was the most controversial. FERC did go back and change the final rule as 1NGAA had wanted but it simultaneously issued a proposed rule whose purpose is to ensure that new compressor stations, subject to a lesser noise standard than originally contained in the final order, not be objectionable to people who live nearby.

To recap, when it issued the Order 686, FERC broadened the types of natural gas projects permitted under blanket certificate authority to include certain mainline, storage, and LNG and synthetic gas pipeline facilities, and increased the blanket certificate project cost limits from $8.2 to $9.6 million for automatic authorization projects and from $22.7 to $27.4 million for prior notice projects.

Prior to the final rule, before mainline compressors were included, the blanket authority could only be used for compressors on lateral pipelines, compressors installed temporarily, some replacement compressors and compressors needed to restore service lost due to sudden unforeseen damage to a mainline.

Because it added larger compressor facilities, FERC decided to impose a stricter noise standard, saying the noise of the compressor would have to be measured at the boundary of the compressor site instead of at the noise sensitive area (NSA), whose dimensions the company determines without any input from FERC in the case of blanket certificate projects. That NSA is inside the boundary.

INGAA argued the new "boundary" standard was unnecessary, for a number of reasons. The noise attenuation equipment that companies would have to deploy might have an adverse impact on air quality. Companies might be compelled to acquire larger areas of land to push compressor station boundaries out from the noise source to meet the standard, which could damage relationships with nearby landowners and inhibit companies from upgrading facilities at existing stations.

FERC ultimately agreed to revert to the old noise standard--measuring noise within the NSA, not at the boundary of the compressor station. But simultaneously, it published a proposed rule which, if finalized, would require a company putting in a new compressor under blanket authority to do a noise survey within 60 days of placing those new facilities in service to demonstrate that noise attributable to the operation of the compressor does not exceed the current ceiling which is 55 decibels.
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Title Annotation:Government; Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Interstate Natural Gas Association of America
Comment:FERC accedes to INGAA on compressor noise.(Government)(Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)(Interstate Natural Gas Association of America)
Publication:Pipeline & Gas Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2007
Previous Article:Energy bill not looking good.
Next Article:Favorable FERC policy statement on gas pipelines.

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