FERC Thursday approved a final rule that updates and improves standards for business practices of interstate natural gas pipelines, including new and revised standards aimed at improving the coordination between pipelines and electric utilities.

In the rule, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission amended Section 284 of its regulations to incorporate the business practice standards adopted by the Wholesale Gas Quadrant of the North American Energy Standards Board with respect to gas pipelines.

The standards are designed to "support gas-electric interdependency by further defining the roles and responsibilities of each participant under the gas/electric operational communication standards promulgated in Order 698, and giving more details on what is included in various notices through the creation of 15 new notice types so that public utilities may more easily identify relevant pipelines' system conditions," the rule stated.

"The new notice types...are used to notify shippers and interested parties of intraday bumps, operational flow orders and other critical information by email or other electronic methods."

In addition to gas-electric interdependency, the final rule addresses standards on capacity release redesign; standards to support the electronic delivery mechanism and the customer security administration process, as well as standards for pipeline postings of information regarding waste heat.

Natural gas pipelines are required to file tariff sheets to reflect the changed standards by Oct. 1. The standards are due to go into effect on Dec. 1.

The final rule comes as FERC plans to hold five regional technical conferences in August to discuss ways to enhance coordination between the natural gas and electric markets (see Daily GPI,July 12). The first conference is scheduled for Aug. 6 at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark Hotel in St. Louis. Subsequent conferences will be held Aug. 20 at the Hyatt Harborside at Boston's Logan Internal Airport; Aug. 23 at FERC's headquarters in Washington, DC; Aug. 28 at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Portland in Portland, OR; and Aug. 30 at FERC headquarters. All the conferences will be webcast.

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