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FERC Heard Industry 'Loud and Clear' on Gas Day Issue, Honorable Says

The first quarter of her tenure at FERC was a busy one highlighted by a few big issues, according to Commissioner Colette Honorable, who heard "loud and clear" from the natural gas industry on the most controversial of those issues -- a proposal to move the 9 a.m. Central Clock Time (CCT) start of the gas day to 4 a.m. CCT.

"We managed to unify the entire alphabet soup of the gas sector," Honorable said Tuesday at the Natural Gas Roundtable in Washington, DC. "I think every single one of you knocked on my door as soon as I got to FERC."

That proposal, part of an effort to better coordinate natural gas and power generation markets, wasn't included in a final rule approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this month (see Daily GPIApril 16). The Commission concluded that, "while certain efficiencies could be achieved through a better alignment of the natural gas and electric operating days, the record in this proceeding does not justify changing the start time for the nationwide natural gas day," FERC said. "The final rule recognizes that several regional efforts continue to address the misalignment between the gas day and the regional electric days."

The package, approved by Commissioners in a 5-0 vote, adopted two proposals submitted by the North American Energy Standards Board to revise the interstate natural gas nomination timeline and make conforming changes to their standards [RM-14-2]. It moved the Timely Nomination Cycle deadline for scheduling gas transportation from 11:30 a.m. CCT to 1 p.m. CCT and added a third intraday nomination cycle during the gas operating day to help shippers adjust their scheduling to reflect changes in demand.

The proposal to change the start of the gas day "didn't sit too well with some of you in this room in particular," Honorable told the audience.

Voluminous comments from the natural gas industry in opposition to the proposal "gave us a glimpse into some of the things that you're passionate about, what's important to you, what would have concerned you about the prospect of aligning the gas and electric day," she said.

"A few issues stood out" in the debate over the issue. "Clearly, the issue of the timing of the start of the gas and electric day, the timing differences between the day-ahead processes for securing pipeline services and scheduling of the electric generators, and the opportunity for electric generators to refine their gas pipeline capacity to allow it to be more flexible so that they could be more responsive to their needs...

"This was a great example of what works well with the NOPR [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] process. As you can see, we listened to you, we put out a proposal, we invited comment, we interacted with you, we held the meetings and conferences, and we learned from that. And we heard you loud and clear."

Honorable was confirmed to FERC by the Senate in December and sworn in as Commissioner Jan. 5 (see Daily GPIJan. 5Dec. 17, 2014). She was nominated by President Obama last year to serve the remainder of the term of former Commissioner John Norris, which expires June 30, 2017 (see Daily GPIAug. 29, 2014). A previous chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and executive director of the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board, she received bipartisan support during vetting by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (see Daily GPIDec. 4, 2014). 

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