RFP issued for study on gas, electric systems in Eastern Interconnection

A new study focusing on the Eastern Interconnection aims to identify contingencies on the gas and electric systems that could negatively affect each other.

The participating planning authorities (PPAs) of the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC), which include ISO New England and PJM Interconnection, have issued a request for proposals (RFP) to conduct the study, which will also look at the adequacy of the gas system to satisfy generation needs over five- and 10-year horizons.

The other participating planning authorities are the New York ISO, Ontario’s Independent Electric System Operator, the Midcontinent ISO and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The “Gas-electric system interface study for portions of the North American Eastern Interconnection,” which is to be complete by mid-2015 and will be funded under an existing U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant, will analyze the natural gas infrastructure serving a large portion of the Eastern Interconnection, EIPC added on Aug. 2.

The study will develop a baseline of the electric and natural gas systems, including their planning, operation and interactions, and it will examine the pros and cons of dual-fuel capability for generation versus expanding gas system infrastructure, EIPC said.

According to the RFP, those interested in bidding on the work should contact PJM, which will provide an intent to bid form that must be returned by Aug. 9. Subsequent proposals must be completed through PJM’s electronic bid system by Aug. 30.

“In terms of the interface between the gas and electric systems, I think it’s just now becoming a key issue, and that is because of the projections on demand in terms of electric resources for natural gas,” EIPC Executive Director David Whitely told TransmissionHub in March. “There is a fundamental shift that gas is now projected to be one of the dominant – if not the dominant – fuel sources of the future.”

As reported, the request for the new study highlights a growing federal focus on the subject. Also in March, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing on the role of regulators and grid operators in meeting natural gas and electric coordination challenges.

According to the EIPC Aug. 2 statement of work for the study, the study assumes adequate supplies of natural gas are available, and focuses on the interaction of the systems over the next five and 10 years in order to coordinate with existing planning authority timeframes, as well as credibly and accurately capture the significant change in generation resource fuel mix that will occur from 2015 to 2017 as a result of fuel economics and environmental regulations.

Upon execution of the study, certain items must be provided by the PPAs to the study consultant, including identification of all gas-capable generating units that are 15 MW or greater – or lower capacity units to the extent desired by a PPA – connected to each gas pipeline, and 15 MW or greater located within a gas LDC, or local gas distribution company, system.

The consultant is to, among other things, assess the specific drivers of the planning process for each of the major pipelines/LDCs within the study region, as well as the current level of interaction, at an operational level and a planning level, between the natural gas and bulk electric systems.

Also, the consultant is to develop a reference gas demand case that will use “conventional wisdom” with respect to normal weather and future electric load growth assumptions as provided by the PPAs, consistent with good utility practice. The case will consider seasonal – summer and winter – demand for natural gas for the electric sector, as well as include other “conventional wisdom” type assumptions, including capacity attrition due to economics and/or state, provincial or federally mandated environmental policies.

Furthermore, the consultant is to develop a high gas demand case, which applies extreme weather assumptions and includes higher amounts of natural gas used by the electric sector than the amount(s) assumed to materialize in the reference gas demand case, EIPC added.

A low gas demand case is to also be developed, applying mild weather assumptions and including lower amounts of natural gas used by the electric sectors than the amount(s) assumed to materialize in the reference gas demand case.

With regard to dual fuel capability, EIPC said that by each PPA area and for the overall study region, the consultant is to identify the liquid fuel storage capability at each site or station and identify the method of liquid fuel resupply; assess the electric sector’s liquid fuel specifications and discuss the superior requirements from newer generators; and identify the reaction time required by different types of generators to successfully switch to alternative fuels.

Among other things, EIPC said that certain key assumptions made by the PPAs are to be included within the analysis, including assuming that all new gas capable power plants will be single fuel, gas-only generating units unless dual fuel capability has been proposed.

The consultant is to provide a draft report and draft presentation by Dec. 20 on the first target, which involves the baseline of the existing natural gas-electric system interfaces to the PPAs for preliminary review and comment.

A draft report and draft presentation on the capability of the natural gas systems to satisfy the needs of the electric systems is due by March 28, 2014, followed by a draft report and draft presentation involving the natural gas system contingencies that could affect electric system reliability and vice versa by Sept. 12, 2014.

Finally, the consultant is to provide to the PPAs a draft report and draft presentation on the review of dual fuel capability by May 23, 2014, EIPC added.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3112 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.