ISO-NE CEO discusses natural gas reliance at US Senate forum

Gordon van Welie, ISO New England’s president and chief executive officer, participated in “Infrastructure, Transportation, Research and Innovation,” a roundtable discussion hosted on May 14, by the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He joined other industry experts and executives to share perspectives on issues and solutions related to natural gas infrastructure and increased demand for the fuel in the US.

van Welie explained the serious operational challenges to New England’s power system resulting from the region’s growing dependence on natural gas for electricity generation. He described how maintaining power grid reliability will require increased levels of fuel availability within the region, either through more secure gas pipeline arrangements, natural gas storage, or additional dual-fuel capability among generators. He discussed how ISO New England is enhancing its wholesale capacity market design to provide incentives for generators to make arrangements to secure fuel, which the ISO believes will lead to investment in additional natural gas infrastructure. Download his opening statement.

In March, van Welie discussed this same topic at a hearing called by the US House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Read a summary of his remarks and the related ISO Newswire article.

Participants in the May 14 forum touched on several other issues related to New England’s electricity-natural gas issues:

  • How to assign value to electricity reliability, and who pays for it
  • How technological advancements could introduce efficiencies
  • The effects of federal permitting processes on the time needed to develop infrastructure
  • The current mismatch in the relatively shorter length of commitments for generators in electric capacity markets and the much longer commitments sought by the natural gas pipeline industry
  • How New England geology hinders underground gas storage

According to the committee website, three public listening sessions will be held over the next two weeks “to gather information from stakeholders with an interest in ensuring federal policy evolves to take into account the new supplies of natural gas that have become accessible in recent years. The sessions will be held in a roundtable format to encourage open discussion and allow flexibility to find areas of agreement.” Today’s event was the first of the three.

A webcast of the hearing and full list of participants are available on the committee’s website.

Features & Interviews
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