FERC Gas-Electric Information Sharing Order Draws Complaints

February 2014, Vol. 69 No. 2

Two separate challenges have been made to the FERC's Order 787 issued last November. It allowed interstate pipelines and electric utilities to share non-public, operational information with each other for the purpose of promoting reliable service or operational planning on either the public utility or pipeline system.

That order was an acknowledgement of the growing dependence of electric generators on natural gas as coal-fired plants are being retired. There was strong support for the rule from interstate natural gas and electric companies.

The only somewhat controversial aspect of the final rule was its No-Conduit Rule which prohibits interstate pipeline operational employees from being shared with affiliated non-jurisdictional entities, such as gatherers and intrastate pipelines, who are interconnected with the interstate pipeline.

"The implementation of this new No-Conduit Rule exposes such employees and companies to significant compliance risks for no gain," says William E. Wolf, assistant general counsel, Enable Midstream Partners which has filed a request for rehearing. Enable is the new name for CenterPoint Energy Gas Transmission Co., LLC. "It is entirely likely that the Commission’s new, overly-broad No-Conduit Rule will impede rather than promote the commission’s policy goals of encouraging sharing of information helpful to system reliability."

A second request for amending the rule comes from the Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA), the Process Gas Consumers Group (PGC) and the Northwest Industrial Gas Users (NWIGU). They want FERC to agree to hold a technical conference one year after the regulation takes effect in order to assess Order No. 787’s effectiveness as well as a review of the scope of information being shared pursuant to the order. The regulation took effect on Dec. 23, 2013.