The Markets and Reliability Committee approved the creation of a task force to study potential reliability problems resulting from PJM’s increasing reliability on gas-fired generation. The Gas Electric Senior Task Force (GESTF), which will report to the MRC, will prioritize gas-electric coordination issues for potential solutions.
Natural gas’ share of PJM’s generation has nearly tripled since 2007, rising to almost 20% of electric production in 2012. Gas is expected to replace most of the coal-fired generation scheduled to retire through 2015.
Michael Kormos, PJM senior vice president for operations, said although PJM does not face any immediate reliability problems it could take five years to respond to potential shortages through the capacity markets. “We probably should start talking about it now,” he said.
Because natural gas generation relies on “just-in-time” fuel supplies, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has warned that some plants may not be able to operate on the coldest days when gas demand for heating is at its peak.
In late January, the operator of Transco Zone 6 — which supplies generators in northern New Jersey and heating and electric demand in New England and New York — briefly limited supplies with an operational flow order.
“Doing nothing is not an option here,” said PJM CEO Terry Boston. He said although PJM has increased its communication with the gas industry there is room for improvement. “We are talking more to each other but we still talk past each other.”
Boston noted that the gas pipelines supplying generators are radial systems giving them less flexibility than PJM’s networked electric transmission system.
FERC held five technical conferences on the relationship between the natural gas and electricity markets last year (docket #AD12-12-000). The commission will hold another conference April 25 in Washington on coordinating gas and electric scheduling.
The issue is most acute for New England. ISO-NE is seeking FERC approval for tariff changes to allow earlier clearing of its Day Ahead energy market (Docket # ER13-895) and sharing of generator information with pipelines (ER13-356). The commission last month approved ISO-NE’s proposal to increase its procurement of ten-minute non-spinning forward reserves (ER13-465).
To date, PJM has been working to improve coordination with gas pipelines through information sharing and cross training of dispatch personnel.
PJM also is working with ISO-NE, NYISO, MISO and TVA to conduct an analysis of the infrastructure serving the Eastern Interconnection. The study, for which the regions are seeking federal funding, will evaluate the ability of gas systems to supply gas-fired generation into the next decade.
PJM Contact: Gary Helm