After assumed uncertainty, Spire pipeline is approved for winter use

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  • SCREENSHOT VIA SPIRE / FACEBOOK
  • Speyer Missouri President Scott Carter addresses a press conference Nov. 11.

A federal commission has approved a temporary license for the St. Louis pipeline from Speyer Missouri, ending the apparent risk to thousands of homes and businesses facing the cold winter months to come.

While Spire celebrated the decision in an email to customers on Friday night, he also took the opportunity to position himself for the upcoming fight.

In a message to “valued customers” on Dec. 3, Speyer Missouri President Scott Carter wrote that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision was “good news” but that the company was now going to “focus on the long term -certificate term for the Pipeline.”

“So, with gratitude for the good news at hand, we are focusing our energy on advocating for a new permanent operating certificate for the pipeline,” Carter wrote.

The fate of the pipeline is linked to a legal and regulatory battle, which entangled the region’s energy supply with Speyer’s decision to build the $ 280 million pipeline in 2019. In 2018, FERC approved its construction, but the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled in the summer of 2021 that the commission had ignored “plausible evidence of self-operations” and had not actually assessed whether the desired pipeline by Spire would improve service or reduce rates.

The initial approval was overturned by the appeals court, triggering an ongoing legal battle and a series of temporary licenses that FERC issued for the pipeline to continue to carry gas to St. Louis. On November 4, Spire sent an email to its customers warning them that unless they obtained another temporary license by December 13, the pipeline would be closed.

The email sparked panic and a series of criticism at a St. Louis County meeting days later, as members grilled a Spire project manager over the company’s decision to alarming thousands of people when it emerged, based on the company’s previous statements, that there was no real risk that FERC would allow a pipeline shutdown. Councilor Lisa Clancy, District D-5, told the director of Speyer: “It looks a bit like a fabricated disaster designed to solve some of the public relations issues that you and your business are having.”

However, Spire maintained that the “worst case scenarios” of a winter outage would be devastating. In FERC’s decision to grant a temporary license to the Spire pipeline, the panel noted, “Spire Missouri estimates that without the Spire STL pipeline, its customers would lose service for up to eight days,” and that at the end of the day. sequel to “a massive gas failure caused by reductions during a peak day” he may take up to 100 days to restore service to all of its 400,000 customers.

While the commission did not directly address the long-term fate of the pipeline, the ruling notably addressed how “commentators argue that the current situation is in the hands of Speyer Missouri and is not an emergency.” adding: “We do not, at the moment, take a position on who is responsible for the current situation.”

The ruling continued: “For these purposes it suffices to determine that there is an emergency which requires the granting of a temporary certificate to allow the continuation of service, particularly during the winter heating season.”

Spire may have even more to answer. The panel’s decision also noted, “We are aware of the concerns of the DC Circuit regarding the potential that Spire has engaged in self-operation and the failure of the Commission to seriously address these concerns.”

For Speyer, these concerns will follow him throughout the winter. The company is fighting in court to defend the construction of the pipeline on appeal of the decision that overturned the original FERC approval. Spire is seeking to take the case to the United States Supreme Court.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at
@D_Towski. Email the author at [email protected]

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