Borough wants FERC's ear on AKLNG project

Aug 9, 2018

Nikiski is identified as the best terminus for the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline Project submitted by the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough wants to keep it that way.

At its meeting Tuesday, the borough assembly gave the administration the green light to apply for intervener status with the Federal Regulatory Commission as it considers AGDC’s AK LNG project. Having the status to intervene means the borough can weigh in on the project proposal with FERC. The deadline to apply to intervene is long past — May 1, 2017 — but the borough didn’t think that step was necessary at the time.

Now, though, other municipalities in the state are telling FERC the terminus should be somewhere other than Nikiski. John Quick, borough Mayor Charlie Pierce’s chief of staff, says the borough wants to be able to counter those claims.

“We have a situation where we have Valdez and the Mat-Su Borough intervening, saying, ‘Hey, we want the port in our neck of the woods.’ And as an intervener, not only can you intervene in a way that says, ‘Hey, you should do this and not that,’ you can also intervene in a positive way and say, ‘Hey, we believe, as the Kenai Peninsula Borough, that you’ve selected the right location for the terminus based off these reasons, and these are the reasons why Mat-Su and why Valdez actually don’t work,’” Quick said.

Quick says the administration plans to reiterate to FERC all the reasons AGDC already considers Nikiski the best location for the pipeline terminus.

“We’ve got to build our case but we’re also going to use some of the data points that have already been collected over the years that only have ever pointed to Nikiski being the terminus,” Quick said. “So a lot of it is affirming what’s already been put in place by AGDC and we’ll do our own research to say why we think Mat-Su is not a great choice and Valdez is not a great choice.”

The borough estimates that the LNG project could mean about 4,400 jobs on the Kenai during the construction phase and 230 permanent positions once the terminus is built. So there’s a lot at stake.

“Not having a seat at the table is not a good idea, and spending a little bit of money to be an intervener could help potentially get a $43 million project to land in Nikiski,” Quick said.

He said he doesn’t know how long it will take for FERC to decide on the borough’s intervener application. FERC is responsible for issuing environmental impact statements required for the project to go ahead. AGDC filed its application for a permit to construct the project in April 2017. FERC is expected to issue a draft EIS in March 2019, with a final EIS expected in December of that year.