The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to recognize the critical role that natural gas and its related infrastructure play in ensuring reliable energy generation as the region transitions to a lower-emission energy future.
Kimberly Watson, President of Interstate Gas Pipelines for Kinder Morgan and INGAA Board Chair, speaking on behalf of the trade association at the New England Winter Gas Electric Forum said, “The pipeline industry stands ready to build out this critical infrastructure, but we need the full support of all agencies, and the region, to incentivize these efforts."
“I urge the Commission to take steps to act now to promote an efficient, predictable and consistent review of certificate applications for new pipeline infrastructure. At a minimum, the Commission should complete the review of proposed projects for New England within 18 months and issue a merits order on rehearing requests within 30 days,” Ms. Watson added.
The energy transition will not happen overnight, and in the meantime, there is a shortfall of natural gas infrastructure to keep the lights on and homes warm through the critical winter months.
“A transition to predominantly renewable fuels backstopped by batteries will take years to decades, whereas natural gas can serve as both a foundational fuel and a complement to renewables now, ensuring reliability of service with a low-carbon intensity for years to come. The bottom line is that we need new pipeline infrastructure both now and well into our future,” Ms. Watson explained.
ISO New England backs up this claim in a letter from its President and CEO, Gordon Van Welie, to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, writing “[d]uring the coldest days of the year, New England does not have sufficient pipeline infrastructure to meet the region’s demand for natural gas for both home heating and power generation.”
This energy shortfall will only grow worse as New England incorporates more renewable generation, but pipelines are not the problem.
The reliability of the pipeline industry’s service during extreme weather events is unparalleled, but service is structured around firm transportation contracts. For those who choose not to pay for firm transportation, pipelines offer tailored services, such as no-notice and non-ratable flows, and coordinate with ISO-NE and firm shippers to provide additional capacity on a “best efforts” basis, but these alternatives only work if firm shippers do not use all of the capacity that they purchase.
On the coldest days of the year, firm shippers like LDCs use all their gas to keep their customers’ homes warm, leaving non-firm customers scrambling to find fuel and paying significant premiums if they do.
Additional infrastructure will provide added capacity and enable New England’s clean energy transition without sacrificing reliability, prices, or higher GHG emissions as the region turns to coal or fuel oil to try to keep the lights on.
INGAA hopes this forum further informs FERC’s thinking as it considers gas-electric challenges in New England and the means to address them.
INGAA represents the U.S. natural gas pipeline industry. INGAA’s members deliver clean, abundant, affordable natural gas throughout North America and operate approximately 200,000 miles of pipelines that serve as an indispensable link between natural gas producers and consumers.