On July 18, 2013, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemakings (NOPR) addressing communications concerns related to gas-electric coordination in Docket No. RM13-17-000. Communication of Operational Information Between Natural Gas Pipelines and Electric Transmission Operators, 144 FERC ¶ 61,043 (2013) http://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/2013/071813/M-1.pdf.

The NOPR proposes to modify the Standards of Conduct applicable to natural gas pipelines and electric transmission operators in two ways:

  • Pipelines and electric transmission operators, with each other, non-public transmission information deemed necessary to maintain system reliability and integrity; and
  • Pipelines and electric transmission operators are prohibited from disclosing, or from acting as a conduit to disclose, the shared non-public transmission information with third parties or with their marketing function employees.

The NOPR does not contain a definition of the type of non-public information that may be shared in order to maintain system reliability or integrity, but proposes to permit pipelines and electric transmission operators to have discretion to determine what information may be shared under the proposed rules.

The Commission finds that the sharing of non-public transmission information between pipelines and electric transmission operators does not raise concerns regarding undue discrimination, because these entities are not similarly situated to other participants in energy markets. To the extent that certain electric transmission operators are part of vertically-integrated utilities, the NOPR concludes that any competitive concerns are addressed by the no-conduit rule. In response to concerns raised by certain entities that they may be placed at a competitive disadvantage in negotiating with pipelines if such information is shared, the Commission noted that pipelines are not required to provide service at a discount and may obtain information from any source when determining whether a discount should be offered.

The NOPR expressly seeks comment on three issues:

  • Whether the type of non-public transmission information that can be shared between pipelines and electric transmission operators should be defined in more detail;
  • Whether generators should be required to share information received from pipelines on the possible interruption of natural gas service, such as due to concerns regarding ratable takes, with electric transmission operators; and
  • Whether the specific customer should be included on any communications between pipelines and electric transmission operators that involve the sharing of non-public transmission information about that customer.

The NOPR is the first formal proposal issued by the Commission to address ongoing concerns regarding gas-electric coordination. The Commission held a technical conference to address communication issues related to gas-electric coordination on February 13, 2013, and this NOPR was issued to respond to comments raised regarding that technical conference.

Interested parties may file comments regarding the NOPR no later than 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.