Natural gas as a fuel source for electric generation has increased and the trend is likely to continue, resulting in an ongoing dialog regarding the interdependence of the natural gas and electric industries. In February 2012, the Commission began to formally examine the issue by seeking comments and over time convening technical and regional conferences. On July 18, 2013, the Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) proposing to revise Parts 38 and 284 of the Commission’s regulations to provide explicit authority to interstate natural gas pipelines and public utilities that own, operate or control facilities used for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce to share non-public, operational information with each other for the purpose of promoting reliable service or operational planning on either the public utility’s or pipeline’s system.

The Commission wants to remove barriers to the sharing of non-public, operational information for day-to-day operations as well as during emergencies. To balance the risks associated with such open communications, the Commission also proposes to adopt a No-Conduit Rule which prohibits recipients of the non-public, operational information from subsequently disclosing or being a conduit for subsequently disclosing that information to any other entity. A few other interesting highlights of the NOPR are:

  • The proposed changes would not override existing tariffs that prohibit such communications. A filing to revise the tariff would be necessary.
  • The Commission seeks comment on whether the proposed rule should require that, to the extent the non-public, operational information exchanged between transmission operators involves customer-specific information (such as information about individual generators), the transmission operators must seek to include the customer as part of a three-way communication.
  • The Commission seeks comment on whether a generator should be required, at the request of the electric transmission operator, to provide its electric transmission operator with information pertaining to any communications received from a natural gas pipeline regarding potential failures by the generator to conform to flow rates or nominations.

Comments are due August 26, 2013 and must reference Docket No. RM13-17-000. They may be submitted electronically via the eFiling link on the Commission’s website at www.ferc.gov or submitted by postal mail to:

FERC
Secretary of the Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20426