FERC staff offers update on gas-electric coordination issues

Progress was made in the March-June period this year on a number of fronts as various entities try to improve the coordination between the electric power system and the gas pipeline system, said Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff.

Commission staff on June 19 presented to the commissioners its sixth quarterly update on national and regional Gas-Electric Coordination Activities, as directed by the commission in a November 2012 order. With the grid, particularly in the Northeast U.S., growing increasingly reliant on gas-fired generation and often volatile natural gas supplies, FERC launched this effort to being better coordination between those two systems.

This report focuses on significant new national and regional developments since last reported in March, highlights the commissioner-led Technical Conference on Winter 2013-2014 Operations and Market Performance in RTOs and ISOs on April 1, and briefly summarizes recent industry applications filed with the commission.

Following the March 20 issuance of the commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) regarding the Coordination of the Scheduling Processes of Interstate Natural Gas Pipelines and Public Utilities, the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) reconvened the Gas Electric Harmonization (GEH) Forum as the platform for industry to consider the commission’s NOPR proposals as well as to develop any consensus-based alternatives to the proposals in the NOPR. The Forum was tasked with developing a recommendation for the consideration of the full Board of Directors.

The GEH Forum held two planning conference calls in late March and early April, and four two-day meetings throughout April, May, and June. The meetings were highly attended, averaging 300 industry participants.’

At the conclusion of the scheduled meetings, the GEH Forum was unable to reach consensus on a package of alternatives to the proposals in the commission’s NOPR. “The gas and electric industries’ viewpoints on the Gas Day were split with a super-majority of the gas industry supporting the current Gas Day start time of 9:00 am Central and a super-majority of the electric industry supporting moving the Gas Day to 4:00 am Central,” the report noted. “Therefore, the GEH Forum did not have a recommendation to the Board.”

However, on June 4 the NAESB Board of Directors met and passed a motion recognizing that there appeared to be broad support from interested parties in both the gas and electric industries for changes in the intraday scheduling cycles and the day-ahead nomination cycles. Therefore, the board directed the Wholesale Gas Quadrant (WGQ) to develop new standards and modify existing standards to support the scheduling timelines developed by the GEH Forum for the timely, evening, ID1, ID2, and ID3 nomination cycles. The nomination deadline for the timely and evening cycles are the same as those proposed in the NOPR—1:00 pm Central and 6:00 pm Central, respectively. The timelines for ID1, ID2 and ID3 vary from those proposed in the NOPR and the nomination deadlines would be at 10:00 am, 2:30 pm, and 7:00 pm, all Central time. The NAESB standards will not include an ID4 cycle as proposed in the NOPR. The standards will be neutral on the gas day start times and will essentially be “fill in the blank” standards pending a final order by the commission, the staff report said.

The NAESB anticipates filing consensus-based standards on the scheduling timeline, without a Gas Day start time, with the commission by Sept. 29 as directed in the NOPR. As announced in the NOPR, comments on NAESB’s consensus standards, as well as comments on the commission’s proposals, are to be filed by Nov. 28, which is 240 days after publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register.

Work continues after April 1 Technical Conference

In response to a number of mid-winter cold weather events, the commission held a Technical Conference on April 1 on Winter 2013-2014 Operations and Market Performance in RTOs and ISOs. The technical conference explored the impacts of the cold weather events on the RTOs/ISOs and discussed actions taken in response to inform the commission of the challenges posed by these events. Post-technical conference comments were filed by 35 commenters and the commission is currently analyzing these comments. Interregional studies continue on the ISO and state levels.

Levitan & Associates continues work on the multi-regional Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC) Study involving ISO New England, New York ISO, PJM Interconnection, Midcontinent ISO, Ontario IESO and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The Target 1 Report, which provided a baseline assessment of the existing gas-electric systems, was finalized and posted on April 1 on the Gas-Electric Documents page of the EIPC website.

Analysis is underway for Target 2, which will evaluate the capability of the natural gas system to meet demand in the 5-10 year horizon. The study will use natural gas and electric system forecasting tools to explore three reference case scenarios and sensitivities.

An initial draft report is expected to be posted on June 20. The report will contain the methodology, inputs, and analysis of the three scenarios and sensitivities. The initial Target 2 findings and report is scheduled to be presented on June 25-26 with the final report due in October.

Target 3 was kicked-off in March with a final draft report expected by the end of 2014, while Target 4 methodology was posted on May 30 with work to continue through 2015.

The Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council (EISPC) held a full council meeting on May 15-16. The ICF-led long-term Natural Gas/Electric Infrastructure Requirements Study mentioned in previous gas-electric quarterly reports is ongoing, with the final results for both natural gas and electric systems expected in summer 2014.

In May 2014, the EISPC and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) awarded the contract to Energy Exemplar, tasked to advance resource planning by assessing the potential integration of co-optimization tools with other planning analysis. This is the first time that these entities will be working together, supported by a funding opportunity from the Department of Energy, to evaluate transmission development options throughout the Eastern Interconnection. The study will be used to inform states on what they can do to enhance planning tools and processes in furtherance of their respective statutory authorities.

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.