What's New at NGA?

May 22, 2019
Registration Underway for NGA's 63rd Annual Gas Operations School
NGA's 63rd Annual Gas Operations School & Exhibit will be held June 4-7, 2019 at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI. Registration is underway for sponsors and students; the exhibit is now fully subscribed. Look for more information on NGA's web site: https://www.northeastgas.org/eve-gas-ops-school.php

Call Before You Dig - Dig Safely!
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) and its stakeholders remind homeowners and contractors to call 811 before they dig to prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages. More information is at: https://call811.com/

In addition to the national 811 service, NGA reminds its members - and the general public - that each of the Northeast states has a local "One Call Center." NGA has links to all the sites linked through the "Public Awareness" section of its web site, at www.northeastgas.org. Utilize these important resources - be aware - and be safe!

FERC to Convene Conference in July on New England Fuel Security Concerns
On May 21, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced a staff-led public meeting will be held on July 15 regarding ISO New England's Long-Term Fuel Security Proposal (Docket Nos. EL18-182-000 et al.). The meeting will consist of three, 90-minute presentations by ISO-NE, NEPOOL stakeholders, and representatives from New England states with time for questions and answers reserved at the end of the meeting. Questions will only be permitted from Commission staff and Commissioners.

Con Edison Reaches Agreement with Iroquois to Enhance Gas Deliverability for NYC
On May 9, Con Edison said that it has "executed an agreement with an existing natural gas pipeline to develop and permit a rational solution that would provide needed incremental natural gas capacity to the Bronx and parts of Manhattan and Queens. Demand for natural gas in New York City has grown significantly in recent years. This has been due to conversions of heating systems from oil, as well as economic growth, with developers preferring natural gas in new buildings." Under the agreement, Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P. would provide increased natural gas capacity to Con Edison's distribution system that serves New York City by upgrading compression facilities on the Iroquois system. These upgrades will enhance Iroquois' capability to transport much needed natural gas supplies to Con Edison customers. Subject to the necessary permits and approvals, the incremental capacity could be placed in service by November 2023. Con Edison stated: "This agreement supports continued economic growth in New York City by supplementing existing natural gas capacity without the construction of a new pipeline. When combined with Con Edison's continued efforts to advance renewables and alternative technologies, the project provides a superior environmental alternative to the continued use of heating oil, and will provide customers with clean, affordable heating and cooking solutions. The project will include numerous industry leading methane reduction measures."

FERC Issues Certificate for Williams/Transco's "Northeast Supply Enhancement Project"; NYS DEC Denies Water Quality Certificate; Williams to Resubmit
On May 3, Williams reported that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing the Northeast Supply Enhancement project - an expansion of the existing Transco natural gas pipeline designed to serve New York markets in time for the 2020/2021 winter heating season. The Northeast Supply Enhancement project will provide 400,000 dekatherms per day of additional natural gas supply to National Grid. Following the receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals, Williams anticipates beginning construction on the Northeast Supply Enhancement project facilities in the fall of 2019.

On May 15, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the agency's denial, without prejudice, of the required Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline project. The agency press release stated: "As currently conceived in the application, construction of the NESE pipeline project is projected to result in water quality violations and fails to meet New York State's rigorous water quality standards. Specifically, construction of the proposed project would result in significant water quality impacts from the re-suspension of sediments and other contaminants, including mercury and copper. In addition, the proposed project would cause impacts to habitats due to the disturbance of shellfish beds and other benthic resources." Following the DEC announcement, Williams issued a statement: "The Department of Environmental Conservation raised a discrete technical issue with our application for water quality certification. Our team will be evaluating the issue and resubmitting the application quickly. We are confident that we can be responsive to this technical concern, meet our customer's in-service date and avoid a moratorium that would have a devastating impact on the regional economy and environment."

Phase 1 Report on Safety of Massachusetts Natural Gas System Released
On May 15, the Phase 1 Summary Report for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Assessment of Pipeline Safety was released. The report was prepared by the firm of Dynamic Risk. In November 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) selected this firm to conduct an independent statewide examination of the Commonwealth's natural gas distribution system, in the wake of the Merrimack Valley incident of September 2018. The Phase 1 report provides initial observations and recommendations. It notes that the state's gas utilities are generally focused on regulatory compliance. Massachusetts and the Northeast have a higher proportion of leak-prone pipe than the national average. The Gas Safety Enhancement Program (GSEP) enacted in 2014 to accelerate the replacement of older "leak-prone pipe" is considered by the consultant to be "an example of legislative and regulatory success." A Phase 2 report will include further details on each gas company's programs and practices. The report is posted on the MA DPU web site:
https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/05/15/Dynamic%20Risk%20Phase%20I%20Report.pdf

Joe Mallia of NYSEARCH Receives National R&D Award
On May 1, Joseph Mallia of NYSEARCH was awarded the John B. McGowan Sr. Research Award on May 1 by the American Gas Association (AGA). This award is sponsored by Hubbell/GasBreaker and recognizes an individual or company who has made an outstanding contribution to improving natural gas safety, delivery, design, construction, operation, maintenance or efficiency through their research efforts. Joe was presented with this award for his outstanding contributions in research. Congratulations!

NY ISO Issues 2019 "Power Trends" Report - Natural Gas Remains Key Fuel Source in Changing Market
On May 2, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) released Power Trends 2019, an annual report that provides in-depth information and analysis on current and emerging trends that are transforming the power grid and wholesale electricity markets. The 2019 report focuses on several important trends, including changing energy usage and moderating demand, and the economic and policy decisions affecting the expansion and contraction of power generation resources. Among the observations:
  • "Whereas last year's Power Trends discussed the implications of ambitious public policies calling for 50% of electricity consumed by New Yorkers to come from renewable sources by the year 2030, Power Trends 2019 examines the impact of even more aggressive goals."
  • "The portion of New York's generating capability from natural gas and dual-fuel facilities grew from 47% in 2000 to 59% in 2019. Wind power - virtually non-existent in 2000 - grew to 4.5% of New York State's generating capability in 2018. In contrast, New York's generating capability from power plants using coal declined from 11% in 2000 to 2.5% in 2018. Generating capability from power plants fueled solely by oil dropped from 11% in 2000 to 6% in 2018."
  • "Among other initiatives, the NYISO is developing a proposal with stakeholders and policymakers to incorporate the societal costs associated with carbon dioxide emissions into its energy markets to better reflect the state's policy of reducing emissions. Similar to how competitive markets created incentives for generators to improve efficiency, a social cost of carbon priced in the energy market would create stronger incentives for those types of efficiency improvements. Markets would also provide stronger incentives for developing zero-emitting resources like wind and solar in locations where they will have the greatest effect on emissions."
The report can be found online at:
https://www.nyiso.com/-/press-release-nyiso-issue-annual-power-trends-2019-report

Blacksmith Group Selected to Lead NGA PSMS Initiative
In March, NGA announced the selection of The Blacksmith Group (P-PIC) to assist NGA membership in the development and implementation of API RP 1173. This effort is in response to a request from the MA Department of Public Utilities for MA gas utilities to adopt the nation's first statewide Pipeline Safety Management System (PSMS).

Seventeen highly qualified consulting firms from across North America responded to the RFP issued by NGA in November 2018. The review process led to the subsequent development of a "shortlist" of five finalists, followed by a two-day series of in-person interviews and presentations with each of the finalists. Membership voted unanimously on March 1 to award the contract to The Blacksmith Group, P-PIC, with Managing Director Mark Hereth serving as Program Manager.

The membership selection team (representing seventeen member companies) concluded that the Blacksmith Group brings extensive knowledge and experience with PSMS and more broadly Safety Management Systems. Mr. Hereth and his team at Blacksmith have a proven track record of working with a variety of LDCs across the country to "operationalize" PSMS strategy - creating an environment for behavior change necessary to advance safety culture.

A new NGA Standing Committee - the NGA PSMS Committee - will manage this work, beginning in Massachusetts and expanding to other interested members throughout the NGA footprint.