Implications of Greater Reliance on Natural Gas

Aspen  Environmental Group’s Catherine Elder served as the principal author and  analyst for “Implications of Greater Reliance on Natural Gas for Electricity  Generation.” Sponsored by the American Public Power Association (APPA), with  financial support from the Utility Air Regulatory Group, the study looked at  what changes would need to occur should EPA rules push utilities across the  country to switch their coal-fired power plants to burn natural gas.  Among the initial findings of this study was  the fact that at only 20% renewables, no new nuclear power and no carbon  capture and sequestration means the current U.S. gas burn for electricity  generation must increase to three times current levels, even with much lower  load growth. The study  describes the  need for large increases in natural gas pipeline capacity, new underground  storage needs, tariff and operating rule changes needed to address  incongruities between the services electricity generators need and a gas  pipeline system built to serve primarily residences and industrial baseload  demand, and reliability issues as electric utilities switch to natural  gas-fired generation.  Ms. Elder  presented implications of the study at the Minnesota Rural Electric Association’s  August 2011 Energy Issues Summit, at a public workshop for the Board of Public  Works in Holland, Michigan and at the 14th Annual Energy, Utility and  Environment Conference held February 2011 in Phoenix.  The study continues to be used and cited by  utilities across the country considering resource planning choices and provided  a reference point to California Energy Commission staff preparing their 2011  natural gas assessment.

In a further  example, Ms. Elder spoke in January 2012 about the implications of natural gas  and electricity convergence at the Plugging into Natural Gas  Energy Summit, sponsored by Northwest Gas  Association, Bonneville Power Administration and the Pacific Northwest  Utilities Conference Committee. Ms. Elder’s provocative presentation left  lasting impressions with the audience. In the meantime, the North American  Energy Standards Board (NAESB) has formed Gas Electric Harmonization committee,  whose goal is to figure out whether there are standards the NAESB could change  that would reduce the discontinuities that affect electricity generators that  use natural gas.  Ms. Elder has joined  this committee and the her APPA study will be used as one of its reference  materials.

Click here to purchase the article “Implications of Greater Reliance on Natural Gas”.

Click here to read presentations “2010 Joint Action Workshop Presentations”.