PORTLAND, OR – The Northwest Gas Association (NWGA) and the Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee (PNUCC) compliment the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its decision to hold regional workshops on coordination as reliance on natural gas for power generation increases across the country.
In joint comments on FERC Docket AD12-12 submitted by the NWGA, PNUCC and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the organizations called for FERC to consider regional differences in energy infrastructure and resource mix as it contemplates its role in facilitating greater coordination.
“The Northwest power system and its mix of resources are unique from other regions of the country,” said Dick Adams, Executive Director of PNUCC. “That’s why we said any federal policies promulgated in this matter should accommodate regional differences. We are pleased FERC will look at these issues in that regional context,” Adams continued.
For instance, the Pacific Northwest relies more on hydropower than any other region of the country and is near the top in wind power production. This can create challenges for the natural gas system as the region leans more on natural gas to produce power in low water years and when the wind isn’t blowing.
Dan Kirschner, Executive Director of the NWGA said, “There is plenty of gas available to fuel additional generation in the region, and the pipeline systems by which it is transported here from production areas are highly reliable.
Kirschner noted that the region is already carefully planning to ensure continued reliability. “Our goal is the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas where it is needed, when it is needed,” said Kirschner. “We’ve been actively working on planning and operational coordination with our electric counterparts in the region for more than a year now.”
NWGA and PNUCC members, along with other stakeholders are developing communication and operational protocols should disruptions occur in the existing system. PNUCC and the NWGA are also collaborating on a new initiative called the Power & Natural Gas Planning Task Force to ensure that the Northwest is planning effectively to maintain its record of reliability.