What's New at NGA?

January 22, 2018
Natural Gas System Operates Reliably, Meets Record Utility Demand, During Prolonged Cold Snap
A period of very intense and challenging cold started on December 26, 2017 and extended until January 7, 2018 in the Northeast as the Eastern U.S. experienced a long cold spell. Historic cold temperatures were recorded in many areas. The natural gas system in the region experienced very high utilization and delivered reliably throughout, thanks to a committed performance by interstate pipelines, local gas distribution companies, and LNG terminal operators.
  • Virtually all of the local gas distribution companies in the region set new peaks for sendout. Con Edison of NY noted on January 9 that the utility delivered 1.42 million dekatherms of gas on January 6, beating the record of 1.37 million dekatherms set just the day before. National Grid set records for utility-wide gas sendout, with its gas utilities in MA, NY and RI setting records. Berkshire Gas set a new sendout record on Jan. 6, 8% above its previous peak. Central Hudson Gas & Electric set new peaks on Jan. 5 and then again on Jan. 6; the latter date was 3.3% above the prior peak of Feb. 2016. CT Natural Gas set a new sendout record on Jan. 6, 5% above its previous peak. Eversource (NSTAR Gas) set a new sendout record on Jan. 6, 4% above the previous peak. Eversource (Yankee Gas) set a new sendout record on Jan. 6, 6% above the previous peak. Liberty Utilities NH set six new records within the 2 weeks, with an all-time peak on Jan. 1. New Jersey Natural Gas set a new record on Jan. 6, 2% above the previous peak. NYSEG set a new peak on Jan. 5. Southern CT Gas set a new sendout record on Jan. 6, 8% above its previous peak. South Jersey Gas reported a new peak day on Jan. 6 and an all-time 3-day period of Jan. 4-6. Unitil recorded new peaks on Jan. 6 on both its Fitchburg and Northern Utilities systems.
  • On January 8, Williams Partners L.P. announced "that it has delivered a record amount of natural gas on its Transco interstate gas pipeline, providing essential services to gas distribution companies, power generators and other customers located along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast...Transco delivered a record-breaking 15.58 million dekatherms (MMdt) on Jan. 5, 2018. The new peak-day mark surpasses the previous high that was set on Jan. 1, 2018. The Transco system, which stretches from South Texas to New York City, also established a new three-day market area delivery record, averaging 14.90 MMdt from Jan. 4 to Jan. 6, 2018." Other pipelines in the region report several top 10 sendout days within this cold snap period.
  • The U.S. EIA noted on January 5 that "major pipelines delivering natural gas into New York and New England are constrained again on January 5, with average pipeline utilization ranging from 90% - 100% on key segments."
  • Distrigas and Canaport both delivered LNG supplies into the system to customers, with several cargoes to their import terminals helping to meet demand.
  • The natural gas spot market price set records in New York and New England markets, reflecting high demand and system constraints, and had implications for power market fuel options and power prices.
  • NGA held two conference calls during the cold snap among the three Northeast electric grid operators and the region's natural gas suppliers to review system operating conditions; the calls were conducted according to anti-trust and information policy requirements.

U.S. EIA has released a "Northeastern Winter Energy Alert" on January 5 and 8 that provide information on multiple energy markets in the region during the cold snap; the info can be found on the EIA web site: https://www.eia.gov/special/alert/east_coast/

FERC Issues Certificate Authorizing PennEast Pipeline
On January 19, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued certificates authorizing the PennEast Pipeline project "to construct and operate a new 116-mile natural gas pipeline from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, to Mercer County, New Jersey, along with three laterals extending off the mainline, a compression station, and appurtenant above ground facilities." PennEast proposes to construct a new greenfield pipeline system to provide up to 1,107,000 Dth/d of firm natural gas transportation service to markets in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and surrounding states. The project extends from various receipt point interconnections with the interstate natural gas pipeline system of Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) and with gathering systems in the eastern Marcellus Shale region operated by UGI Energy Services, LLC, Williams Partners, L.P., and Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., to multiple delivery point interconnections in natural gas-consuming markets in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, terminating at a delivery point with Transco in Mercer County, New Jersey. The project's website is: http://penneastpipeline.com/

NGA's Sales & Marketing Conference, March 8-9 - Registration Underway
NGA's Annual Sales & Marketing Conference will be held March 8-9, 2018 in Newport, RI. Sessions will be held in three concurrent tracks: residential/small commercial sales; large commercial/industrial sales; and customer service and energy efficiency. Program and registration information are posted on NGA's web site: http://www.northeastgas.org/eve-sales-mktg.php

U.S. EIA Releases Updated Short-Term Energy Outlook
On January 9, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its updated "Short-Term Energy Outlook." Among the observations are:
  • "Dry natural gas production is forecast to average 80.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, a 6.9 Bcf/d increase from the 2017 level, which would be the highest year-over-year increase on record. Forecast dry natural gas production increases by an average of 2.6 Bcf/d in 2019."
  • "Henry Hub natural gas spot prices are forecast to average $2.88 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2018 and $2.92/MMBtu in 2019, compared with the 2017 average of $2.99/MMBtu."
  • "EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas to rise from 32% in 2017 to 33% in 2018 and to 34% in 2019, as a result of low natural gas prices."

Look for further details online: http://unitil.com/media-center/local-news-releases/last-cast-iron-pipe-removed-nh-gas-system

Adelphia Pipeline Files Proposal with FERC for PA Project
On January 15, Adelphia Gateway, LLC announced it had filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing the acquisition, construction and operation of an existing 84-mile pipeline and related facilities in Pennsylvania. Announced in November 2017, Adelphia Gateway, a subsidiary of New Jersey Resources, NYSE: NJR, entered into an agreement to purchase and operate the Pennsylvania-based pipeline system with interconnections at Texas Eastern Transmission, LLC in Bucks County and Columbia Gas Transmission in Northampton County to Marcus Hook in Delaware County. Adelphia Gateway will repurpose the southern 50-mile portion of the pipeline to provide natural gas to the region. The northern 34-mile section of the pipeline, extending from Bucks County to Northampton County, was converted to deliver natural gas in 1996. Once complete, Adelphia Gateway will be able to transport an incremental 250,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day, approximately 91 million dekatherms per year, providing a direct and flexible path for delivering locally produced natural gas to growing and underserved markets in southeastern Pennsylvania and beyond. Pending receipt of all the necessary permits and regulatory actions, Adelphia Gateway expects the project to be placed into service in early 2019.

New England Electric Grid Operator Releases Fuel Security Analysis
On January 17, ISO New England released its "Operational Fuel-Security Analysis", a study assessing whether possible future resource combinations would have enough fuel to ensure bulk power system reliability throughout an entire winter. The results indicate that "maintaining reliability is likely to become more challenging, especially if current power system trends continue." The significant trends driving the evolution of New England's power system include: the region's demand for natural gas is growing; the natural gas infrastructure capacity is not always adequate to deliver all the gas needed during winter for both heating and power generation; and a large portion of the proposed new power plants would use natural gas. Meanwhile, coal, oil, and nuclear power plants have been essential for reliability when natural gas is in short supply, but they are retiring. New England has limited dual-fuel generating capability-that is, the ability to switch between natural gas and oil-and siting and permitting new dual-fuel power plants is becoming more difficult, as emissions restrictions on burning oil are tightening. ISO said: "This unique operational analysis measures how often energy shortfalls would require the ISO to employ emergency actions, up to and including rolling blackouts. The operational impact was measured in hours of emergency operating procedures that would be necessary to maintain system reliability when not enough fuel was available to generate all the electricity needed to meet forecasted electricity demand during the entire winter of 2024/2025." Further information is online at: https://iso-ne.com/static-assets/documents/2018/01/20180117_pr_fuel-security_report_release.pdf

FERC to Review Electric Grid Reliability
On January 8, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced it had terminated the proceeding it initiated (Docket No. RM18-1-000) to consider the Department of Energy's September 29 proposal on grid reliability and resilience pricing. Its press release said: "The Commission places a priority on resilience, and today issued an order initiating a new proceeding (Docket No. AD18-7-000) to holistically examine the resilience of the bulk power system. The Commission recognizes that it must remain vigilant with respect to resilience challenges, because affordable and reliable electricity is vital to the country's economic and national security. Today's action directs operators of the regional wholesale power markets to provide information as to whether FERC and the markets need to take additional action on resilience of the bulk power system. The goals of this proceeding are to develop a common understanding among the Commission, industry and others of what resilience of the bulk power system means and requires; to understand how each regional transmission organization and independent system operator assesses resilience in its geographic footprint; and to use this information to evaluate whether additional Commission action regarding resilience is appropriate. FERC expects to review the additional material promptly. Each regional market operator must submit the required information within 60 days of issuance of the order. FERC also invited other interested entities to respond to the market operators' comments."

FERC Denies Petition from Constitution Pipeline Regarding Timeline of NY State Environmental Review
On January 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced it had denied a petition for a declaratory order submitted by Constitution Pipeline, LLC asking the FERC to find that, under Section 401 (a)(1) of the Clean Water Act, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) had waived its authority to issue a water quality certification for the Constitution Pipeline Project. The order concerned the length of time that a state agency has to issue its certificate before it is deemed to waive its authority. The FERC found that "by withdrawing its applications before a year had passed, Constitution gave New York DEC new deadlines. The record does not show that New York DEC in any instance failed to act on an application that was before it for more than the outer time limit of one year." In a statement issued on January 11, Constitution Pipeline said: "We are planning to seek rehearing and, if necessary, appeal of this decision in order to continue to develop this much-needed infrastructure project designed to bring natural gas to a region of the country that has recently experienced demand resulting in the highest natural gas prices in the world. Constitution remains committed to constructing and placing into operation this critical piece of energy infrastructure."

U.S. HHS Releases Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Funding for States
On October 20, the Office of Community Services (OCS), Division of Energy Assistance (DEA), of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced the initial release of approximately $3.03 billion of Federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 regular block grant funding to LIHEAP grantees. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist families with energy costs. The 9 Northeast states are receiving $899.4 million of the total allotment, as follows: CT, $67.2 million; ME, $34.9 million; MA, $122.9 million; NH, $23.2 million; NJ, $105.9 million; NY, $327.4 million; PA, $178.6 million; RI, $22.4 million; and VT, $16.9 million. Further information can be found at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/resource/fy-2018-funding-release#.Wfpl1xb54uo.twitter

Call Before You Dig!
NGA and its member companies remind homeowners and contractors to call 811 before they dig to prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages. The main link for information is: http://call811.com. As well, each of the Northeast states has a local "One Call Center." They range from "Call Before You Dig" in Connecticut to "Dig Safely New York" to "One Call New Jersey" to "Dig Safe"a in five New England states to "Pennsylvania811". NGA has links to all the sites linked through the "Public Awareness" section of its web site, at http://www.northeastgas.org/call_centers.php
Utilize these important resources - be aware - and be safe!