Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair John Wellinghoff and a California regulator examined the Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) emergency response center in downtown Los Angeles during a national regulators’ meeting, and they found a potential national model, according to Michel Florio, a member of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

While being briefed on the natural gas operations and emergency response preparedness of the Sempra Energy gas-only utility, Wellinghoff said he thought the way SoCalGas coordinates with state power grid operator California Independent System Operator (CAISO) should be replicated in other regions of the country, according to a report Florio gave Thursday to his CPUC colleagues at their business meeting in San Francisco.

“It was very impressive to hear [Wellinghoff’s] reaction to how SoCalGas goes about coordinating with the CAISO,” said Florio, who is leading CPUC work in the aftermath of last September’s San Bruno gas pipeline rupture and explosion.

“California has been dependent on natural gas for electricity generation for a number of years, and the protocols for working together to make sure all of the needs of the electric system are met by the gas supply system are pretty well developed [in California],” Florio said. “Wellinghoff remarked that California is really a model for the nation in that respect.”

Florio cited states in New England that do not have this close gas-electric coordination. “They have significant difficulty with the gas and electric industries not speaking the same language and coordinating with each other.

“The FERC chairman left with the comment he thought California’s approach should be replicated, so I counted that as a ‘touchdown’ for the home team,” said Florio, who helped arrange for the joint visit as an offshoot of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners summer meetings in Los Angeles (see Daily GPI, July 20).

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