Responding to suggestions from the energy industry, FERC on Tuesday announced that it is planning five conferences in August to explore the growing interdependence between the North American natural gas and electricity grids. The technical sessions are labeled as a way to improve coordination of the gas and power markets.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) also is looking for specific improvements in coordination and communications. "Public comments filed with the commission earlier this year identified a wide range of issues related to gas-electric interdependence," a FERC spokesperson said.

FERC acknowledged in breaking down the sessions that the division may not "neatly fit" the natural gas infrastructure breakdown, but they should be reasonably good for discussing more gas-electric coordination and cooperation.,

Earlier this year, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America urged FERC to convene a series of "timely and tightly focused regional technical conferences, starting in New England, over the next several months, to identify and address any current and emerging issues regarding how the increased reliance on natural gas for electric power generation may affect the reliability of the electric bulk power grid" (see Daily GPI, April 3).

Likewise, the American Gas Association representing gas utilities, asked the Commission to quickly convene a series of technical conferences at both the regional and national levels to identify general policy goals and address specific regional concerns, as well as expedite the approval of pending pipeline projects that are needed to enhance system reliability.

Each session will attempt to address the interdependency through four broad areas: communications, coordination and information sharing; scheduling; market structures and rules; and reliability concerns.

Each of the conference geographical areas cover different independent grid system operators, and involvement from those organizations is expected. The conferences, open to the public, are set for Aug. 6 in St. Louis; Aug. 20 in Boston; Aug. 23 in Washington, DC; Aug. 28 in Portland, OR; and Aug. 30 in Washington, DC. The sessions would be accessible through social media, such as Twitter with a conference-specific feed (#FERC-GEC).

Specific venues, times and agendas for each regional technical conferences are to be announced later, but the Washington, DC, conferences are to be held at FERC headquarters.

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