Spectra Eager for FERC Approval of Compressor

Despite the many permits that Spectra is lacking to proceed with construction of the Atlantic Bridge project, they seem fairly confident that they will get a conditional permit approval from FERC in the near future. Spectra recently bought some land from Calpine on the north parcel for the price tag of $13 million. This land purchase goes against Town law; Calpine sold it without consulting with the town. The Town of Weymouth is looking to bring Spectra to court over this unlawful purchase.

You can read the full article from the Weymouth News below or here.

By: Ed Baker, Weymouth News

"Weymouth officials fear Spectra Energy will get a conditional certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct a 10,500 horsepower compressor station on a parcel near the Fore River Bridge.

Weymouth officials fear Spectra Energy will get a conditional certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct a 10,500 horsepower compressor station on a parcel near the Fore River Bridge.

Town solicitor Joseph Callanan said FERC would decide whether it is okay for Spectra to go ahead with its construction plans under special conditions or whether the firm needs to get clean air and water permits from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection before the facility can be built.

Mayor Robert Hedlund previously said Weymouth's best hope for having a say in whether the compressor station is built appears to be through the Office of Coastal Zone Management.

Callanan said the Office of Coastal Zone Management won't make a decision until it gets an opinion from DEP Waterways.

"Right now the department of wetlands is reviewing our appeal," Callanan said.

Opposition to the proposed compressor station and a four-mile natural gas pipeline from residents and town officials has been fierce during public hearings held by the FERC and the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board.

Spectra's purchase of the parcel occurred six months after the Weymouth conservation commission unanimously declined to issue an order of conditions to the firm to construct the proposed compressor station.

Spectra appealed the commission's decision to the Massachusetts DEP and it reversed the ruling by granting the firm a superseding order of conditions to proceed with its plans.

Weymouth is asking the DEP to reverse its ruling and Spectra subsidiary Algonquin Gas Transmission agreed to a one-year stay of having its plans reviewed by FERC in August.

Callanan said Weymouth is challenging Spectra's purchase of the four-acre site for the proposed compressor station from Calpine Energy on Dec. 2 in the state's land court.

"They (Spectra) have broken laws that every real estate developer must comply with and we are taking them to court on that," Callanan said.

Weymouth officials allege Calpine broke a state subdivision law that requires local officials to approve the sale of a parcel when a portion of the land is sold to a buyer.

Callanan said the manner of the land purchase by Spectra is unusual because the firm had not received certification from FERC to proceed with construction of the compressor station.

"It expresses a huge amount of confidence they will get the certification," Callanan said.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds website states Spectra Energy paid $13 million to purchase the approximately four-acre site from Calpine Energy.

Hedlund said there is great frustration in his administration about Spectra not involving town officials in the land purchase.

"Nothing can undo the land transaction," Hedlund said.

Callanan said if FERC issues Spectra a conditional certificate to Spectra to construct the compressor station, Weymouth would have 30 days to ask the agency for a re-certification of the project, which would result in a construction delay.

"FERC would have to respond to our request for a re-certification and they most likely they would say no," Callanan said.

Callanan said federal natural gas laws would only allow Weymouth to appeal FERC's issuance of a condition certification to Spectra to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We would not be able to go to federal trial court," Callanan said."