Kern River Gas Transmission Co., which is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., owns and operates a 1,680-mile interstate natural gas pipeline between southwestern Wyoming and the San Joaquin Valley near Bakersfield, Calif. For more than 1,300 of these miles, the pipeline is 36 inches in diameter.
The original pipeline went into service in 1992. It has since been expanded in July 2001 (California Action Project), May 2002 (2002 Expansion Project), August 2002 (High Desert lateral and meter station), December 2002 (Bighorn lateral), and May 2003 (2003 Expansion Project).
Presently, the pipeline system has a design capacity in excess of 1.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). It features 11 compressor stations (total system compression of approximately 286,000 horsepower): four in Wyoming, four in Utah, two in Nevada, and one in California.
On June 20, 2008, Kern River filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to expand its system. The proposed 2010 Expansion would entail constructing new facilities, modifying existing facilities, and increase its maximum allowable operating pressure by 145,000 Dth/d.
According to Kern River, the expansion would add neither new mainline pipelines nor new rights of way. The primarily aboveground work would entail installing additional compression and modifications at its two existing stations in Wyoming. In addition, it would involve the installation of additional measurement equipment at existing meter stations in Wyoming and California. Finally, Kern River planned to install additional cathodic protection test points on the right of way in highly populated areas.
Kern River also sought approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to increase the maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) from 1,200 pounds per square inch (psi) to 1,333 psi on the pipeline and from 1,250 to 1,350 psi at the compressor and meter stations. The increase would enable Kern River to transport additional natural gas through existing facilities while minimizing disruption and impact to the environment, landowners, and those near the pipeline right of way.
The pipeline operator received the certificate of public convenience and necessity from FERC in June 2009 and a notice to proceed from the agency the following month. Kern River began construction in Summer 2009 and placed the new facilities into service in April 2010.