As the Northwest electric system becomes increasingly dependent on natural gas, it is important to understand how the two sectors interface. This informational brief discusses how natural gas is scheduled, what occurs when too much or too little gas is scheduled, and how power plant operators can reduce the risk of not having enough fuel.
In the Northwest, natural gas serves four major purposes. It heats homes and businesses, powers industrial processes, is a feedstock for producing end products (e.g. fertilizer), and generates electricity. The gas that supplies the Northwest is mostly produced in British Columbia, Alberta, and the US Rocky Mountain region. It is transported to customers through a system of interstate and intrastate pipelines.
This brief discusses the basics of gas scheduling, the options available when more/less gas is scheduled than needed, and how power plant operators can reduce fuel risk. It focuses on gas scheduling for electric power plants, but the general concepts are applicable to other gas users as well. This brief was written to help Northwest power system planners and policymakers better understand gas scheduling.
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