Sabal Trail seeks FERC approvals for gas pipeline to serve Florida market

Sabal Trail Transmission LLC on Nov. 20 filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission an application for various approvals, including certificates of public convenience and necessity, for a big gas pipeline to serve the growing power plant market in Florida.

One of the applied-for certificates would authorized Sabal Trail to construct, own, and operate a new natural gas pipeline system, including compressor stations, metering and regulating stations, and appurtenant facilities in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Another certificate would allow it to acquire by lease from Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC (Transco) the capacity that will be created by Transco’s proposed Hillabee Expansion Project at the Alabama end of this project.

Sabal Trail is a new interstate pipeline system designed to satisfy the growing natural gas transportation capacity needs of electric generators and natural gas distributors and end-users in the southeastern United States, including the states of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Sabal Trail has two foundation shippers, Florida Power & Light (FPL) and Duke Energy Florida (DEF), which together combine for a commitment of firm capacity of 1,000,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/d). The target in-service date for initial service on the project facilities is May 1, 2017.

In December 2012, FPL issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for new natural gas transportation capacity to serve FPL’s natural gas-fired generating facilities in Florida. The RFP requested proposals for a new interstate pipeline extending from Transco’s Compressor Station 85 in Alabama to the Central Florida Hub to be located in Osceola County, Florida. In July 2013, FPL announced that Sabal Trail was the winning bidder in the RFP process.

The Sabal Trail Project is comprised of a combination of lease capacity and new greenfield pipeline construction that will provide approximately 1,075,000 Dth/d of new firm natural gas transportation capacity, and, consistent with the directives of the RFP, the project extends from multiple upstream supply sources located at Transco’s Compressor Station 85 to a new market interconnection hub, known as the “Central Florida Hub,” in Osceola County, Florida.

Sabal Trail will acquire the capacity necessary for the project to access receipts of gas at Transco’s Compressor Station 85 under the Transco Lease. The Transco Lease is a mainline capacity lease of new incremental capacity on the Transco system extending from Transco’s Zone 4 Pool and Transco’s interconnections with Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC (MEP) and Gulf South Pipeline Co. LP, all located at Transco Compressor Station 85 in Choctaw County, Alabama, to an interconnection with Sabal Trail’s proposed new greenfield natural gas transmission system in Tallapoosa County, Alabama (called the “Tallapoosa Interconnection”).

The greenfield portion of the Sabal Trail Project consists of approximately 500 miles of transmission pipeline. The mainline transmission pipeline extends from the Tallapoosa Interconnection to the Central Florida Hub where the project facilities will interconnect with the proposed Florida Southeast Connection LLC (FSC) transmission system, the existing Gulfstream Natural Gas System LLC transmission system and the existing Florida Gas Transmission Co. LLC (FGT) transmission system. The FSC and Gulfstream interconnects are located near Sabal Trail’s proposed Reunion Compressor Station in Osceola County, Florida, and the FGT interconnect is located at the terminus of Sabal Trail’s proposed 36-inch diameter line extending from the Reunion Compressor Station to the FGT system (“Hunters Creek Line”) in Orange County, Florida.

The Sabal Trail Project also includes a 24-inch diameter pipeline extending from a point in Marion County, Florida, to a proposed power plant to be constructed by DEF in Citrus County, Florida (the “Citrus County Line”). Notable is that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is currently out for comment on that 1,640-MW project of Duke Energy Florida. It is called the Citrus Combined Cycle Project and is located next to the utility’s existing Crystal River coal and nuclear plant (the nuclear unit is now retired). The Florida PSC approved the power project recently.

The Sabal Trail pipeline project will have:

an initial design capacity of 830,000 Dth/d with a proposed in-service date of May 1, 2017 (“Phase 1”);

an increase to 999,000 Dth/d with a proposed in-service date of May 1, 2020 (“Phase 2”); and

an increase to 1,075,000 Dth/d by May 1, 2021 (“Phase 3”).

Sabal Trail is a joint venture owned by affiliates of Spectra Energy Partners LP (with an ownership interest of 67%) and NextEra Energy (with an ownership interest of 33%). Sabal Trail will be operated by Sabal Trail Management LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Spectra Energy.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.