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Report Shows FERC Increased NatGas Pipeline Capacity Certification in 2016

FERC issued certifications for 18.2 Bcf/d of natural gas pipeline capacity in 2016, a 15.4% increase from 2015 (15.7 Bcf/d), but the amount of capacity that entered service dropped slightly during that timeframe, according to a report released Wednesday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Meanwhile, natural gas leapfrogged wind in terms of cumulative power generation capacity installed for new service in 2016, both in the number of projects and in megawatts (MW), according to FERC's Office of Energy Projects (OEP).

In its latest report, the OEP said pipeline companies placed 37 projects with a combined 7.07 Bcf/d of pipeline capacity into service in 2016, a 9% decrease from 2015, when 35 projects totaling 7.79 Bcf/d of capacity entered service. The number of miles of pipeline that entered service also declined 7.5%, from 423.5 miles in 2015 to 391.7 miles in 2016.

But FERC certificated 52 projects totaling 1,174.9 miles of pipeline in 2016, more than double what it certificated from 47 projects in 2015 (578 miles). There were also large increases in the amount of compression certificated and entering service -- the Commission certificated 1.42 million horsepower (hp) of compression in 2016 (compared to 522,580 hp in 2015), while companies entered 420,869 hp of compression into service in 2016, a 44% increase from 2015 (291,397 hp).

The Commission certificated one storage project with 15 MMcf/d of deliverability in 2016, compared to two projects certificated in 2015 with 2.7 Bcf of storage capacity. No storage projects entered service in 2016, but six did in 2015, with a combined 11.4 Bcf of storage capacity, 53 MMcf/d of deliverability and 6,800 hp of compression.

With liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports and exports, the OEP reported that FERC certificated five projects with a combined 10.2 Bcf of storage capacity and 5,281 MMcf/d of deliverability. By comparison, the Commission certificated two projects in 2015 with 3,600 MMcf/d of deliverability.

For power generation, the OEP reported that 696 units with 26,209 MW of cumulative installed capacity came online in 2016, a 36.9% increase in terms of MW from the 667 units brought online in 2015 (19,138 MW). Natural gas accounted for 102 of the 696 units from 2016, a distant second behind solar (407 units). But natural gas led with 8,689 MW of cumulative installed capacity; wind followed at 7,865 MW and solar was third with 7,748 MW.

By comparison, solar also led with 405 units installed in 2015, but wind was second that year at 76 units and natural gas was third with 73. Wind led the field in terms of cumulative installed capacity in 2015 (8,328 MW), followed by natural gas (6,386 MW) and solar a distant third (3,521 MW).

According to the OEP, natural gas now accounts for 43.2% of total available installed generating capacity. Coal is the only other source fuel in double digits at 24.7%.

For its figures on power generation, the OEP compiled data from Velocity Suite, ABB Inc. and The C Three Group LLC.

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