FERC staff outlines work so far on gas-electric coordination issues

Regional transmission organizations and other parties continue to make progress on the issue of better coordination of the gas pipeline and electricity supply systems at a time when regions are increasing reliant on sometime scarce gas for power generation.

At a Sept. 19 monthly meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC staff presented their third quarterly update on gas-electric coordination activities. It covers the period June through August and focuses on regional initiatives and docketed matters before FERC.

Breaking the work down by regions, the staff report said:

  • According to recent discussions of the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) Gas-Electric Focus Group, the group has largely accomplished its initial objectives of information exchange and discussion of potential short-term supply reliability solutions. The group plans to convene in October to discuss additional results from the New England pipeline capacity study being conducted by Black & Veatch. The recently finalized study recommends a short-term strategy that includes immediate deployment of dual-fuel generation, demand response measures, and the seasonal purchase of liquified natural gas (LNG). In the long-term, a cross-regional natural gas pipeline solution is recommended, which will provide twice the net benefits to New England consumers than would be contributed by the firm-based Canadian energy imports solution. ISO-New England continues to consider and file with the commission market rule changes and other proposed solutions to address gas-electric issues.
  • In the Mid-Atlantic, gas supply associations continue to be involved in the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC) in which PJM Interconnection is leading the study as the principal investigator. A detailed scope of work for the study along with the final request for proposals was issued on Aug. 2 with bids due Aug. 30. Final work is scheduled to be completed by May 2015. A meeting of the stakeholder steering committee is scheduled for October 29-30 in Washington, D.C.
  • The Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council (EISPC) conducted roundtable discussions in August with FERC Commissioner Moeller, national electric and natural gas industry associations as well as end-user associations participating. Panelists were asked to share concerns and potential solutions for consideration by the collaborative and study consultants as they begin work on the long-term Electric and Natural Gas Infrastructure Requirements Study and Whitepaper. The Study and the Whitepaper are expected to cover infrastructure requirements under different scenarios and address such issues as planning and confidentiality procedures. The anticipated completion date is June 2014.
  • Levitan & Associates presented the New York ISO with its Fuel Assurance Study findings in June. It examined the relative cost and benefit of providing fuel assurance through dual-fuel capability against incremental cost of obtaining firm transportation entitlement from a liquid sourcing point to the delivery points of a gas-fired generator; and grid security.
  • At its August meeting, the Midcontinent ISO’s Electric-Natural Gas Coordination Task Force presented the preliminary results of Phase III of the MISO Gas-Electric Interdependency Analysis. The preliminary results showed that recent pipeline capacity additions have contributed to a decrease in the number of days in which capacity would have been unavailable for the majority of the MISO-region pipelines; and suggested natural gas supply diversity is expected to increase in the region supporting incremental demand growth. Final results were expected to be presented at a Sept. 15 Task Force meeting. MISO is also working on a number of whitepapers such as: the potential misalignment of gas and electric schedules; communication enhancements and operational awareness improvements; and adjustments to the energy and capacity markets.
  • In the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), the Gas-Electric Coordination Task Force conducted a natural gas-fired generator survey, held training sessions with gas pipeline and marketer personnel, and implemented a visual pipeline mapping tool. The Task Force is in discussions regarding a potential study for its region similar to the EIPC study.
  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) continued regional coordination efforts during third quarter. ERCOT participated in a Texas Energy Reliability Council (TERC) conference call on July 10 examining gas storage status, summer electric generation needs affecting gas demand, and any planned pipeline maintenance that might affect delivery; no issues were noted. ERCOT is also finalizing a Non-Disclosure Agreement that is reported to allow the cross industry sharing of protected or confidential gas infrastructure information from gas pipelines and suppliers and detailed electric infrastructure information from ERCOT, transmission and distribution companies, and black start resources.
  • The West has a number of subregional natural gas-electric coordination initiatives. The Western Gas-Electric Regional Assessment Task Force issued an RFP for its Western Natural Gas-Electric and System Flexibility Assessment introduced last quarter. The two-phase study will be led by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) with representation from industry, regulators, and others. The selection of contractors was made on Sept. 6. The initial study results are expected to be completed in a nine-month period, with three months dedicated to Phase I and six months to Phase II, with final results due at the end of 2014.
  • The Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee’s (PNUCC) Power & Natural Gas Planning Taskforce is exploring a second phase I-5 Corridor study based on the initial ColumbiaGrid Gas-Electric Interdependencies Study. The second phase of the study will explore how the system would respond to increased natural gas generation sited in the I-5 corridor, and if the system is able to handle large swings driven by gas demand from power plants and direct service companies. The Task Force hopes to begin the analysis by its October meeting.
  • Both the California ISO and the Desert Southwest Task Force continue with similar work as reported in prior quarters.

Some gas-electric issues are also before FERC itself

In matters before FERC itself, on July 18 the commission issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to address information sharing and communications issues between the natural gas and electric industries. These proposed rules built on the discussions and information learned from conferences and comments filed with the commission following a Feb. 13 technical conference. In brief, the proposed rule would revise regulations to authorize expressly the sharing of nonpublic operational information between the interstate natural gas pipelines and electric transmission operators – not just during emergencies but also for day-to-day operations, planned outages, and scheduled maintenance. It would also adopt a No-Conduit Rule to prohibit recipients of non-public operational information from subsequently disclosing, or using anyone as a conduit for the subsequent disclosure of that information to a third party.

The commission has received two applications to expand pipeline capacity serving electric generation and one application to increase operational flexibility. The two pipeline capacity expansions were:

  • Eastern Shore Natural Gas’ White Oak Lateral Project in Kent County, Del., proposing to add 55.2 MMcfd of transportation capacity for Calpine Energy Services LP for use in the Garrison Energy Center, a proposed 309-MW combined cycle power plant under development; and
  • Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line‘s Mobile Bay South III Expansion Project, proposing to add 225 MMcfd of firm transportation capacity to serve two anchor shippers – Southern Co. Services and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative – both of which operate a substantial amount of gas-fired generation in the Southeast and Florida.

Gulf South Pipeline filed tariff records proposing a new Alternative No-Notice Service designed to meet the requirements of local distribution companies, electric generation markets, and other customers that desire a flexible no-notice service.

Recent filings have been made by the electric industry to address increasing reliance on natural gas-fired generators as well as previously-reported filings that have been the subject of recent commission action. A majority are from the Northeast region and include a compliance filing addressing a proposal by a generator to recover fuel costs incurred to support reliability during a cold weather event; and proposed rule changes filed by ISO-NE and NEPOOL to incent better resource performance, more accurately reflect reliability actions taken by ISO-NE in market prices, develop a reliability project for winter 2013/14, and provide market participants with flexibility to change their energy market offers in real-time.

FERC staff’s next quarterly report is due in December.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.