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Federal regulators say vote will be taken on Spire pipeline permit before it expires Dec. 13

Spire has warned that St. Louis area customers could lose service if the temporary operating certificate for the 65-mile pipeline isn't extended.
Credit: KSDK

ST. LOUIS — The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Thursday that the panel will vote on extending a temporary permit through this winter for a Spire Inc. (NYSE: SR) natural gas pipeline before it expires Dec. 13.

The four commission members at the meeting expressed support for that move. The fifth member, confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week, has not been sworn in yet.

“It’s not a matter of if, but when, the extension happens,” said Richard Berg, political director of the Sierra Club’s Missouri chapter.

Spire has warned in a Nov. 4 email to customers and in radio ads that St. Louis area customers could lose service starting in mid-December if the temporary operating certificate for the 65-mile pipeline isn’t extended.

At FERC’s meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C., commission chairman Richard Glick referred to the utility’s claims as “fear-mongering.”

"One thing I think we can all agree on is the situation is a mess. In my opinion, the mess was created because the commission had absolutely no evidence that the proposed pipeline was needed,” said Glick. He was nominated to FERC in 2017 by President Donald Trump and named the chair last year by President Joe Biden.

Spire did not respond to a request for comment on Glick’s remarks, but said it is “encouraged” by the commissioners’ statements committing to act before the 90-day temporary certificate expires.

“However, today we still lack the certainty of an official order — free of conditions — authorizing continued operations for the full winter heating season,” the company said. 

Spire added: “In the face of ongoing regulatory uncertainty, Spire Missouri had — and still has — a responsibility to communicate with its customers about the potential for any potential service disruptions, including if the Spire STL Pipeline were to be taken out of service."

A federal appeals court in June vacated FERC's 2018 approval of the pipeline, saying FERC did not sufficiently analyze whether it was needed since only one gas supplier, an affiliate of the line's operator, committed to use it. The pipeline began operations in 2019.

Read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.