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ISO-NE Seeks Interim Coordination With Pipelines Before Winter

ISO New England (ISO-NE) wants to share real-time information on natural gas-fired power generation resources with interstate gas pipeline operators beginning early next month in order to head off concerns about unreliable generation dispatch.

In a filing at FERC, ISO-NE warned of "significant reliability concerns regarding generator performance that may be exacerbated during the upcoming winter" [ER13-356]. ISO-NE proposed that its "Pipeline Information-Sharing Changes" become effective Dec. 7 on an interim basis.

Prompting the request is history of generation resources falling short of what was requested of them in times of need, ISO-NE said. The ISO is particularly concerned because the region is relying increasingly on gas-fired resources.

And, in fact, FERC's own "Winter Outlook" last week warned there could be a supply problem in New England this winter because of the increased electric power burn, plus pipeline constraints and less gas coming into the region from LNG imports (see separate story).

The Comission has recognized a communication and coordination problem between the gas and electric markets, but after holding five technical conferences on the subject last year, it issued an order last week calling for two more technical conferences. It also called on stakeholders to report next May on their winter experiences (see item in briefs).

Unless action is taken soon, New England could have a lot to report, the ISO-NE indicated.

"In various instances, natural gas-fueled generators have not provided energy when dispatched, claiming that they were unable to procure natural gas or transportation services or that the gas was too expensive in real-time," ISO-NE told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"As the region continues to rely more heavily on gas, and with the potential for unit retirements that could reduce fuel diversity and eliminate the capacity surplus that has existed in New England in recent years, the risks from these circumstances will increase, in particular when coupled with the large source contingencies in New England."

ISO-NE said by sharing expected generation output schedules confidentially with pipelines, pipeline operators may be able to provide ISO operators with confidential gas availability information that would allow the ISO to anticipate and address potential reliability problems in cases where there is insufficient fuel for all gas-fired generators to meet their schedules.

"While the pipelines may already have the output information that the ISO seeks to share with them pursuant to the Pipeline Information-Sharing Changes, the contemplated information sharing will ensure that all parties have the same information at the same time, and can openly discuss it as real-time operations issues arise," ISO-NE said.

To date, ISO-NE has provided gas pipelines with aggregate generator output schedule information so the pipelines have the opportunity to advise of any gas supply limitations. The changes would allow the information for individual generators to be shared and the discussion of real-time information concerning specific resources, ISO-NE said.

"By sharing this information, the ISO and the pipeline operators will have a better picture of their combined systems, be able to discuss specific conditions instead of generalities and may be able to take actions, under their existing authorities, to avoid reliability problems."

Concerns around coordinating the scheduling activities of natural gas pipelines and power generators in the Northeast have gained in prominence this year. PJM Interconnection and the New York Independent System Operator also are wrestling with scheduling issues, and a study is under way to assess threats to system reliability (see NGI, Oct. 22).

ISO-NE told FERC that stakeholders said they would fight its proposal on the basis of a single issue: "that the generators whose information is being shared should be third-party beneficiaries to the nondisclosure agreement between ISO-NE and the gas pipelines.

"The interim relief requested herein will allow the ISO's proposal to go into effect -- with an explicit provision precluding third-party beneficiary status -- thereby addressing reliability concerns, while giving any intervenors the statutorily-prescribed time to provide the Commission with a full record upon which to base its final decision."

The ISO-NE proposal is one of several "near-term changes" to market rules proposed to address resource performance and market efficiency issues. ISO-NE also plans to propose increasing the 10-minute non-spinning reserve to be procured in the forward market; modifying generation resource auditing requirements and procedures; and accelerating the closing time of the day-ahead energy market.

ISO-NE's planned "intermediate-term changes" are to allow intra-day reoffers and consider the procurement of additional intra-day reserve capability. Long term, the ISO-NE plans to propose a redesign of forward capacity market performance penalties.

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