Armed with calls for gas price transparency, FERC takes aim at intrastate pipelines—the long-forgotten and largely private preserve of the Lone Star State.
Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
The state of Texas stands as the largest producer and consumer of natural gas in the United States—certainly no surprise to anyone reading this column.
Counting more than 70,000 producing natural-gas wells, according to the state’s Railroad Commission (RRC), which regulates the production, gathering, transportation, and sale of natural gas in the Lone Star State, Texas produces approximately 6 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas each year. That represents about 36 percent of the entire domestic onshore-marked gas production in the country.
Also, as the RRC points out, natural gas serves as the number-one fuel for power generation in Texas, both as a percentage of total capacity and actual generation. Gas-fired generation makes up 72 percent of total generating capacity and almost 50 percent of generated energy in Texas.
Supporting all this economic activity are approximately 140,000 miles of intrastate natural-gas pipeline—with the RRC reporting 138 separate intrastate pipes under its regulatory supervision. That represents the greatest gas-industry infrastructure of any state—with virtually all of it ensconced happily in a FERC-free zone, untouched by FERC’s open-access regime, adopted two decades ago in Order 636.
Until this year, that is.