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West Virginia Greenlights Hope Gas’ $177 Million Pipeline, Deemed ‘Reasonable and Necessary’

 West Virginia’s Public Service Commission (PSC) has given the green light to Hope Gas’ proposal for constructing a new pipeline to cater to the Morgantown area, The Dominion Post reported. The PSC granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Morgantown Connector Project (MCP), aligning closely with Hope’s submitted order on Dec. 21.

The pipeline, estimated at a cost of $177,437,169, spans 30 miles from Wadestown to Morgantown and then northwest to Osage. Hope anticipates the creation of approximately 600 jobs, covering half the project cost, with the remainder allocated to pipeline construction and measurement and regulation stations.

The PSC’s approval comes as Hope faces a decline in supply capacity beyond peak-day requirements, with local customers in the Morgantown area expressing a need for increased supply levels, according to The Dominion Post. Hope’s solution involves entering into a 15-year contract with Columbia Gas, aiming to establish a new interconnection near Wadestown.

The PSC order, acquired by The Dominion Post, acknowledges that the proposed MCP and Hope’s decision to interconnect with Columbia are deemed reasonable, necessary, and in the public interest. Hope aims to commence construction by Nov. 1 to meet the demand for the 2025 winter season, citing the necessity for tree clearance outside restricted areas.

Starting from Wadestown, the pipeline would traverse Morgantown, connecting with proposed facilities (Black Night) west of I-79. From there, it extends to a station named Mineral, northwest of Osage, utilizing both existing and new rights of way.

Hope emphasizes the project’s alignment with existing corridors to optimize utility grouping, considering factors like proximity to homes, topography, and tie-in locations at Wadestown, Black Knight, and Mineral.

The project encompasses a 30-mile stretch of a 16-inch diameter steel gas line, with an “up-rating” of 5.6 miles of the existing 12-inch line to accommodate heightened pressure and a new gas supply.

Hope, at present, is not suggesting any increases in rates for the pipeline, according to The Dominion Post. However, the company expressed its intention to recover costs in future base rate and purchased gas adjustment cases.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the PSC ordered Hope to disclose the overall project cost while withholding judgment on detailed maps, drawings, and revenue estimates. The PSC denied the release of maps and drawings, citing existing exemptions, and deemed the project cost confidential until construction bids are complete in the third quarter of 2024.

The order also discusses two revenue estimate types: maximum daily volume (MDV) and producer revenues. Hope will provide MDV revenue estimates within 10 days of the PSC’s order in a closed filing, while producer revenues remain protected as trade secrets under FOIA.

Hope’s project moves forward with regulatory approval, signaling progress for the Morgantown Connector Project.

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