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Eastern Interconnection Seeks Gas-Electric Study Proposals

The six participating planning authorities of the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC) -- ISO New England, New York ISO, Ontario's Independent Electric System Operator, Midcontinent ISO, PJM Interconnection and the Tennessee Valley Authority -- have issued a request for proposals (RFP) to conduct an analysis of natural gas infrastructure and its interfaces with the electric grid within their combined footprints.

The Gas-Electric System Interface Study, which is to be completed by mid-2015, "will develop a baseline of the electric and natural gas systems, including their planning, operation and interactions," EIPC said. "In addition, the study will look at the adequacy of the gas system to satisfy generation needs over five- and 10-year horizons; identify contingencies on the gas and electric systems that could negatively affect the other; and examine the pros and cons of dual-fuel capability for generation versus expanding gas system infrastructure."

Study results are expected to help improve gas-electric coordination to ensure electric system reliability.

Intent to bid notices are due by Aug. 9 and proposals are due Aug. 30. The study will be funded under a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant.

The RFP comes three months after the EIPC said it had completed a transmission analysis as part of an electric system transmission planning effort funded by DOE, and the government agency asked EIPC to look into whether the country's natural gas infrastructure is up to the challenges posed by increased gas-fired power generation (see Daily GPIApril 30).

With coal increasingly falling out of favor due to emissions concerns, many utilities and power plant operators are turning toward natural gas as a fuel source. However, the FERC, independent system operators, regional transmission organizations, market participants and several state regulatory commissions have raised concerns regarding the future ability of natural gas infrastructure to meet the coincidental requirements of gas utilities and generators under various conditions, especially during the winter heating season.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation recently released an assessment in which it raised concerns about the ability of an increasingly natural gas-dependent bulk power system to maintain reliability when the capacity to deliver gas supplies to generators is constrained (see Daily GPIMay 23).

Last August, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 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 Daily GPIAug. 31, 2012Aug. 29, 2012Aug. 24, 2012Aug. 21, 2012).

In its first concrete step toward coordinating the two markets, FERC last month issued a draft notice of proposed rule making that would allow natural gas pipelines and electric transmission operators to share nonpublic operational information to promote reliable service and better planning (see Daily GPIJuly 19).

An example of colliding rules and needs of the two markets came just recently when the Tennessee Valley Authority complained at FERC that the pipelines' "no bump" rules for interruptible transportation make it impossible for them to quickly ramp up and make use of its firm transportation capacity when weather or other conditions call for increased power generation (see Daily GPIJuly 31). The southern power operator said that meant customers were not really getting the firm transportation they were paying for.

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