EDF Highlights Serious Deficiencies in Spire’s Emergency Pipeline Application, Urges Strict Limits and Conditions on Any FERC Approval

Statement from Natalie Karas, Senior Director and Lead Counsel, Energy Markets & Utility Regulation

August 5, 2021
Lauren Whittenberg, (512) 691-3437
Colin Rowan, (512) 799-6400

WASHINGTON –  In a motion filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today, Environmental Defense Fund argued that Spire’s application for a temporary emergency certificate “has serious deficiencies” and that “any temporary emergency certificate granted by the commission should be limited and subject to strict conditions.”

In June, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the commission's approval of Spire's Certificate to Operate, finding that FERC did not sufficiently analyze whether the new pipeline was needed in the first place and ignored record evidence of self-dealing between the Spire affiliates. Following the court decision, Spire filed an emergency application to FERC seeking to continue operating the pipeline and argued that natural gas supply to customers in St. Louis would be constrained without it.

“The D.C. Circuit Court’s decision to vacate FERC’s unlawful approval of the Spire STL pipeline was firmly supported by precedent and appropriate in light of the serious deficiencies in FERC’s Orders. FERC must carefully evaluate Spire’s extraordinary request and protect ratepayers, landowners, and local communities impacted by the unlawful pipeline. Left unchecked, Spire stands to profit from a problem of its own making,”

  • Natalie Karas, Senior Director and Lead Counsel, Energy Markets & Utility Regulation

Before the Spire STL pipeline was built, Spire Missouri had access to sufficient natural gas during winter peaks. However, once FERC granted the now-vacated certificate, Spire Missouri took out of service assets that supported service during winter peaks, including an interconnection with another interstate pipeline, compressor units at a gas storage field, and a propane peaking facility – all of which increased the company’s reliance on the Spire STL pipeline. This contravenes the claim that the Spire STL pipeline was built to reduce its reliance on a single asset. In its filing, EDF urged FERC to require Spire to disclose when and why the company took key infrastructure assets offline and how quickly the company could return those assets to service.

If FERC finds that an emergency certificate is warranted, EDF asked the commission to strictly limit the authorization to a specific time frame, allow usage in narrow circumstances to avoid service disruptions, require Spire to charge reduced rates to customers, and protect and compensate landowners who have been subject to eminent domain and remediation failures.

In a separate proceeding before the Missouri Public Service Commission, EDF and the Midwest Energy Consumers Group and the Consumers Council of Missouri filed a motion asking for heightened scrutiny of the affiliate transaction in light of the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision in order to protect ratepayers from unnecessary costs.

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