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Federal Funding Continues to Decline For GRI

Federal Funding Continues to Decline For GRI

GRI, formerly the Gas Research Institute, filed its fourth-to-last annual research, development and demonstration program application last week with FERC, requesting a budget of $70 million and approval of its 2001-2005 RD&D Plan.

The budget is down from the $98 million requested for 2000 and the $132 million last year as stipulated in GRI's seven-year transition plan. GRI's budget will be phased out entirely in three years when it becomes a voluntarily funded organization. This year, GRI anticipates receiving $26.5 million in co-funding from industry and government sources for 2001. Co-funding from industry and government sources totaled $50.7 million in 1999.

"It make it challenging certainly for us to continue to work hard to develop other sources of revenue," said GRI spokesman Joe Hilyard. "We're on the learning curve in regard to that business development side. We're working hard at it. I can't provide any figures but I wish we were a little bit further up the curve than we are. We will continue to get out there and try to convince customers to come forward with voluntary money to take advantage of the services and products we can develop specifically for them as opposed to a cooperative research program with the results being shared."

GRI told FERC in its filing that 25 new GRI products, processes, techniques, tools and key research information items entered the marketplace last year, "further verifying the FERC's earlier conclusion that 'GRI has been an effective force in bringing technological improvements to the gas industry.'" In addition to the 25 new products and procedures last year, 12 enhanced versions of previously commercialized items were placed into use. From January 1995 to December 1999, the GRI program has led to the commercialization of 133 items whose widely distributed benefits have been quantified. Its program this year is composed of 26 projects that are continuations of projects started in previous years.

GRI said that the benefit-to-cost ratio --- evaluating the value of the GRI program to natural gas consumers --- was 9.4-to-1 between 1995 and 1999. This ratio is based on an analysis of actual and projected sales from GRI technology in commercial use over the five-year period, and the total cost of all GRI activities for the same period.

GRI recently announced plans to merger with the Institute of Gas Technology (IGT), a leading energy research organization, to eliminate overlapping dues for GRI and IGT members and to bring the synergies of the two groups together (see NGI, April 24). A name for the combined organization has not yet been selected. The new research group probably will have a much wider focus than just natural gas research and development (R&D). Its 550 members will hail from the gas, oil and electric industries in North America and other foreign countries, as well as from other related fields.

Rocco Canonica

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