The Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA), a trade group that represents U.S. manufacturers, has sent a letter to Congress asking them to take action to grant the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authority to oversee the reliability of interstate natural gas pipeline capacity.

“Unlike the electricity market where Congress granted the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) nationwide market reliability oversight, there is no such oversight for natural gas pipeline reliability,” IECA President Paul N. Cicio, said in a letter. “There is no federal agency which monitors the availability of natural gas pipeline capacity to ensure reliability. It is vital to know that there is sufficient natural gas pipeline capacity to serve increasing domestic and export demand, especially at peak winter and summer demand, and with consideration to aging pipelines and replacement. Both natural gas and electric reliability is at stake. It is for these reasons that we urge Congress to take urgent bipartisan action to give FERC such authority.”

The letter stated that natural gas pipeline capacity is critical to the growth of the entire manufacturing sector, which contributes $2.3 trillion to the U.S. GDP and 12.8 million jobs. Industrial natural gas demand represents 28 percent of total U.S. demand and manufacturers do not have an economic alternative. 

“Reliability of pipeline capacity is critical,” said Cicio. “Manufacturers operate 24/7. If there is inadequate pipeline capacity, we are forced to cut back or stop manufacturing operations. This could result in millions of dollars of additional costs that may result in the permanent closure of facilities resulting in the loss of valuable high-paying jobs. The same is true for reliability of electricity, a sector that has become largely dependent upon natural gas for its generation. Here again, manufacturers are already impacted by decreasing power quality.”

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23rd January 2020