Facing the prospect of historically high levels of power generation retrofits and replacement, the multi-state Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) has identified the need for closer coordination with the region’s natural gas system, an executive told a recent House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.

Stronger federal air pollution standards and continuing low natural gas prices combine to make it likely MISO’s generation mix will swing significantly away from its historic coal base to more reliance on gas-fired generation, said Clair Moeller, MISO executive vice president for transmission and technology.

Moeller committed to the House panel last week to improving “coordination between the electric and natural gas sectors” in the grid operator’s region, which covers 11 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. She also pledged to the stakeholders help in “navigating” the transition.

“Sustained low natural gas prices in combination with compliance requirements for Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] regulations are driving a transition to more reliance upon gas-fired generation in the MISO footprint,” Moeller said.

She summarized two phases of MISO analysis of the gas infrastructure system in its region, concluding that there are significant investments in new gas pipelines and processing facilities facing the industry. The MISO analyses indicated “significant investments in infrastructure expansion may be required to keep pace with growing demand — identified potential pipeline capacity shortfalls under peak demand days in the MISO system.”

Also, as part of its shift of generation sources, MISO is soliciting information from major generation plant owners, particularly coal-fired plants, about what they intend to do in light of EPA’s higher standards.

Moeller said three-quarters of MISO’s coal-fired generation, representing 49.2 gigawatts, is affected by the EPA rules, particularly the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard.

©Copyright 2013Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.