[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 75 (Tuesday, April 20, 1999)]
[Pages 19352-19353]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-9846]



Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
[Docket No. PL99-2-000]

Anticipated Demand for Natural Gas in the Northeastern United 
States; Notice of Public Conference

April 14, 1999.
    Take notice that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will 
convene a public conference on June 7, 1999, to conduct an inquiry into 
anticipated natural gas demand projections in the northeastern United 
States over the next 10 to 20 years.\1\

    \1\ For purposes of the conference, this includes those States 
lying east of the Mississippi River and north of Tennessee and North 

    Currently, there are numerous, varying projections concerning the 
growth of natural gas markets in the Eastern United States. These 
projections, however, do not shed light on the impact this potential 
growth will

[[Page 19353]]

have on existing pipelines. Thus, the Commission believes that it is 
important to examine these projections and to understand more about the 
assumptions, data sources, and perspectives upon which these growth 
forecasts are based.
    To this end, the Commission is interested in hearing all views 
concerning growth projections in natural gas markets in the 
northeastern United States over the next one to two decades and how 
these projections correlate to existing pipeline capacity. The 
Commission is also interested in learning when this increase in demand 
will occur. Will growth occur at varying rates over the next five, ten, 
or twenty years? Will the projected demand occur during a certain time 
of the year, e.g., during the winter when pipeline use is at its peak 
(mainly heating); off peak periods when capacity is more readily 
available (mainly air conditioning); or year-round? The Commission 
would like to explore the assumptions that underlie these projections.
    In addition, the Commission is interested in hearing forecasts 
concerning the type of growth that is anticipated. Specifically, the 
Commission is interested in determining if the contemplated growth will 
serve electric generation facilities, residential customers, industrial 
concerns, other consumers, or some combination thereof.
    As a secondary matter, the Commission wishes to be informed about 
the effect projected growth will have on existing capacity. For 
example, where, when, and how much existing capacity is currently 
available? If the projected growth takes place as forecast, where will 
excess capacity exist in the future? How often will existing facilities 
be constrained? Are existing pipeline systems being effectively used? 
Is it possible to increase the utilization of existing systems? Will 
the projected growth materialize in the form of firm or interruptible 
demand for capacity? How much capacity will be available through 
releases? How much capacity will be available through turn backs? What 
conclusions can be reached concerning how much new capacity may be 
required, within what time frame, and in what regions?
    The conference will be held at the offices of the Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission, in the Commission Meeting Room, 888 First 
Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426.
    The Commission seeks the views of the public and all segments of 
the energy industry. Any person who wishes to participate in the 
conference should submit a written request to the Secretary of the 
Commission by May 10, 1999. The request should indicate the scope of 
the participants' planned remarks. Speakers that have audio/visual 
requirements should contact Wanda Washington at (202) 208-1460.
    Any written comments may be filed within 15 days after the 
    The Capitol Connection will broadcast live the audio from the 
public conference on its wireless cable system in the Washington, DC 
area. If there is sufficient interest from those outside the 
Washington, DC metropolitan area, the Capitol Connection may broadcast 
the conference live via satellite for a fee. Persons interested in 
receiving the audio broadcast, or who need more information, should 
contact Shirley Al-Jarnai or Julia Morelli at the Capitol Connection at 
(703) 993-3100, no later than May 22, 1999.
    In addition, National Narrowcast Networks' Hearing-On-The-Line 
service covers all FERC meetings live by telephone. Call (202) 966-2211 
for details. Billing is based on time on-line.
    All questions concerning the format of the conference should be 
directed to: Joel Arneson, Office of the General Counsel, Federal 
Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, N.E., Washington D.C. 
20426, (202) 208-2169.

    By direction of the Commission. Commissioner Breathitt concurred 
with a separate statement attached.
David P. Boergers,

Breathitt, Commissioner, Concurring

    I agree with the majority that an inquiry into the anticipated 
demand for natural gas will provide valuable insight into the 
development of a rational certificates policy. As the notice 
highlights, there are numerous, varying projections concerning the 
growth of natural gas markets. An exploration of the assumptions 
underlying these projections will add clarity to the Commission's 
analyses. I also believe the questions posed in the notice will elicit 
an informative discussion about natural gas markets. While I support 
the idea of an inquiry into demand for natural gas, I wish to make 
several points with respect to my views about the conference.
    First, I would have preferred that the scope of the conference be 
much broader. I believe that limiting the conference to the Northeast 
fails to recognize a fundamental change that is taking place in the 
natural gas industry as a result of the issuance of Order No. 636 in 
1992. One of the primary goals of pipeline restructuring was to promote 
policies supporting the creation of a national natural gas pipeline 
grid. The Commission's efforts in that regard continue to be 
successful, not in small part due to our capacity release rules, and 
due to the participation of marketers as holders of interstate pipeline 
    For us to restrict this conference to the Northeast does not 
recognize the fact that in today's dynamic natural gas market, changes 
in capacity serving one region may affect pipeline operations in 
another region of the country. New pipeline capacity in the Northeast 
could result in changes in the utilization of the systems that now feed 
that region--pipelines, say, that originate in the Gulf Coast. For 
example, capacity utilization of those pipelines could be reduced as a 
result of such expansions. The value and use of capacity release also 
could be affected. I believe that broadening the scope of the 
conference would have enabled the Commission to look at any ``ripple 
effect'' that expansion of the grid anywhere--not just in the 
Northeast--could cause in today's marketplace.
    Furthermore, I believe that the majority's approach of limiting the 
scope of the conference to the Northeast fails to recognize the fact 
that other regions of the country are also expected to experience 
substantial growth in the demand for natural gas. Certificate filings 
that are pending before the Commission and reports in the trade press 
indicate to me that projected demand for natural gas in the Mid-
Atlantic and Southeast regions warrant an equal examination by the 
    Finally, I question the timing and the forum that have been chosen 
for this inquiry. I do not believe that the Commission has reached a 
consensus concerning the ultimate goals of this conference. Before 
establishing a public conference, I would have preferred the Commission 
to have had a meeting of the minds on our specific objectives for 
building a record, and a mutual understanding of how we would want such 
a record to be used. I don't believe the Commission has a unified sense 
of how this conference fits in with other generic and case-specific 
proceedings currently before us. However, I am supporting this inquiry 
to the extent it will provide at least a piece of the puzzle about the 
future demand for natural gas.
Linda K. Breathitt,
[FR Doc. 99-9846 Filed 4-19-99; 8:45 am]