FERC approves New York/New Jersey Pipeline

July 2012, Vol. 67, No. 7

Advanced coal technologies, such as oxyfuel combustion, will get partial credit. Natural gas would get about a half-credit. Utilities that sell electricity at retail will acquire and use those credits to meet a standard that, overall, will start off being fairly easy to meet.

But at hearings in the Bingaman committee on May 17, Keith Trent, group executive and president of Duke Energy’s commercial businesses, said, "We have concerns with the concept of including natural gas in the program since it could lead to an overreliance on this single fuel."

Duke is the third-largest operator of coal-fueled and nuclear-powered generation in the country. Trent said it is projected that between 30,000 and 60,000 megawatts of the country’s aging coal-fueled generation fleet will be retired by 2015 or shortly thereafter to meet existing and new environmental regulations. "Construction of new nuclear units – which we know are highly competitive in the long run – and zero-emission wind and solar power plants will suffer if Congress gives natural gas another leg up," Trent added. Duke is pursuing a license with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build a new nuclear power plant in South Carolina.

Short-term, the Senate bill has no chance of passage. Long-term, the bill could have wings should Democrats reclaim the House in the 2012 elections and President Obama wins a second term. If Trent's position on natural gas characterizes the view of the entire electric utility industry, gas producers and pipelines will have a major political fight on their hands.

Industry concerned about PHMA leak, valve Studies

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is about to embark on two studies which will be used by Congress to tee up (or not) new safety requirements related to leak detection and automatic and remote controlled shut-off valves (ASV/RCV). But gas transmission, distribution and hazardous liquid pipeline companies and their trade associations are uncomfortable with some of the parameters the PHMSA wants to set. For example, Jeffrey L. Maples, director, Gas Operations, Paiute Pipeline Company, argues that PHMSA has broadened the two studies to include gas distribution pipelines.