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FERC Proposes NatGas Pipes, Transmission Operators Share Information

FERC on Thursday issued a draft notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) that would allow interstate natural gas pipelines and electric transmission operators to share nonpublic operational information that they believe would promote reliable service and better planning on their systems. The proposal is the first concrete step that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has taken toward coordinating the two markets.

The NOPR seeks to "remove barriers to sharing of nonpublic information, not just during emergencies, but also for day-to-day operations, planned outages and scheduled maintenance," staff said in its presentation during the Commission meeting.

The proposal would also allow gas pipelines and electric transmission operators to exchange information dealing with actual or potential effects on the ability to provide electricity and natural gas service "based on the operator's experience and understanding of the operational capability and customer demand on the electric system."

Moreover, the NOPR would include a no-conduit provision, which would bar recipients of nonpublic information from subsequently disclosing the information to an affiliate or a third party. The no-conduit rule would augment the safeguards that are already in place, FERC said.

Comments on the NOPR are due within 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Comments should include the docket number (RM13-17).

This is the "first of several other actions [that FERC] will present on this issue," said FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller, who has led the effort at the Commission to improve the coordination between the electric and gas industries.

Last August, FERC sponsored five technical conferences to explore coordination issues in the gas and power markets in the Mid-Atlantic, New England, Southeast, West and Midwest regions (see NGI, Sept. 3; Aug. 27). Shortly after the conferences, Moeller indicated that a formal rulemaking might be required to resolve the inconsistencies in scheduling so that natural gas pipelines can better serve power generation markets.

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