- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given developers of the 516-mile Sabal Trail gas pipeline final approval to begin construction of the project, The Gainesville Sun reported. The project will move about 1.1 billion cubic feet of gas through Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
- The project is being developed by Spectra Energy Partners, NextEra Energy and Duke Energy.
- The companies in February received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct the pipeline, aiming to have the system in operation by May 2017.
Developers of the Sabal Trail pipeline intend to construct in five separate segments, each slated to become operational simultaneously. While the Corps of Engineers has approved construction, it came with caveats: developers will be required to purchase credits offsetting wetlands impacts.
The project, which has faced significant opposition, aims to meet the region's growing demand for natural gas.
"Sabal Trail will provide a critically-needed source of domestic, clean-burning, affordable natural gas to the Southeast U.S. to meet the growing demand for natural gas-fired generation, the cleanest and most versatile fuel for powering the region's homes and businesses," Bill Yardley, president of Sabal Trail Management as well as president of U.S. Transmission and Storage for Spectra Energy, said in a statement following FERC's earlier approval.
The completed line will deliver gas throughout the Southeast, and is underpinned by contracts for firm transportation services to Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy of Florida.
Last year, Duke Energy purchased a 7.5% stake in the $3 billion project, further expanding the utility's reach into the natural gas sector. Currently, the utility is going through the regulatory hurdles necessary to purchase Piedmont Natural Gas, one of its partners in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.