center for partnerships & innovation

Energy Infrastructure Modernization

Energy Infrastructure Modernization

Natural Gas

The nation's natural gas infrastructure transports gas to homes, buildings, industrial customers, and utilities for use in heating and electric power. Public utility commissions are responsible for assuring the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the natural gas distribution network.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NARUC established a Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization Partnership (NGIMP) as a cooperative effort to understand emerging technologies and regulatory options for improving commission oversight of natural gas utilities. The NGIMP convened state regulators, federal agencies, and other natural gas stakeholders to learn more about emerging technologies pertaining to critically important issues around enhancing infrastructure and pipeline safety. A particular focus is on natural gas pipeline leak detection and measurement tools, and learning about new technologies and cost-effective practices for enhancing pipeline safety, reliability, efficiency, and deliverability.

As of July 1, 2020, NARUC and the DOE launched a new Natural Gas Partnership (NGP) to replace the NGIMP. The NGP continues the NGIMP's work on leak detection and infrastructure modernization and broadens NARUC's focus to a broad range of issues relating to natural gas regulation. 

NGP activities are closely coordinated with the NARUC Committee on Gas

  • Artificial Intelligence Applications in the Natural Gas Distribution System, October 2020
    Artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive analytics, and other applications of data analysis and statistical methods show great potential for improving the efficiency, reliability, and safety of the nation’s natural gas infrastructure. In this resource, NARUC will define the terminology in this area and summarize relevant applications and case studies for natural gas utilities.
  • Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Replacement and Modernization: A Review of State Programs, January 2020
    Natural gas is an essential fuel for the U.S. economy, providing fuel for heating, electricity, and other services to customers. However, natural gas delivery infrastructure is aging, and technologies that were novel at the time of installation may no longer hold that position. Commissions and state legislatures have instituted a number of policies and regulations setting forth objectives and methods to remove and replace aging infrastructure. This report summarizes infrastructure replacement statutes and regulations in 41 states and the District of Columbia, with the goal of enhancing coordination across states and sharing best practices. While there is no perfect model program, state regulators can benefit from an understanding of the regulatory and infrastructure context in their states and how other states have implemented infrastructure replacement programs.
  • Sampling of Methane Emissions Detection Technologies and Practices for Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure: An Educational Handbook for State Energy Regulators, July 2019
    This handbook summarizes methane leaks in the context of the natural gas distribution network. It identifies existing and emerging technologies and practices and outlines partnerships to further the development of novel tools. As a product of NGIMP, this research is primarily meant to expand state energy regulators’ understanding of state-of-the-art methane leak detection tools, thereby enhancing their ability to appropriately regulate the safety and efficiency of the nation’s natural gas infrastructure. However, multiple stakeholders including federal regulators, natural gas producers and utilities, consumer and environmental advocates, and others may also benefit from increased awareness of this market and its regulatory environment.
  • LNG: A Local Market – A Global Market - An Introductory Handbook for State Public Utility Commissioners, November 2018
    Liquefied natural gas (LNG) continues to play a significant and important role not only in the United States market, but also globally. LNG is viewed by many market participants as a viable asset to help expand the use of natural gas and support environmental policies striving to reduce the volume of CO2 and other pollutants that are emitted in the atmosphere by human activity. In its over 50-year-history of being traded, LNG has fostered alliances and become a vital source of revenue to producing regions. LNG has helped consumers in many regions reduce their carbon footprint and enjoy an energy source not bound by agreements entered into by a handful of producers. Technological advances have propelled LNG from a fuel used under extreme conditions, such as a cold spell, to a fuel that can be produced, transported, stored, and delivered safely to consumers for a broad range of applications, ranging from vehicular fuel to power generation. This handbook is intended to serve as an introductory tool for regulators and other interested readers to understand the basics behind the LNG market today and facilitate a thoughtful discourse between producers, regulators, and consumers for further appropriate and responsible engagement and communication on the path forward.
  • Benefits of U.S. Oil and Natural Gas, December 18, 2020
    In October 2020, the Department of Energy released "U.S. Oil and Natural Gas: Providing Energy Security and Supporting Our Quality of Life," a report on the important benefits and key advancements made in the natural gas industry over the last several decades. Strategic investments and technological advances have enabled the U.S. to become a world leader in oil and natural gas production, which has yielded many economic and societal benefits. Oil and natural gas will continue to play an essential role in the nation’s future energy supply. Technological innovation in the field will remain a cornerstone for the U.S. to sustain its domestic energy supply and enhance its energy security. Natural gas in particular remains a vital on-demand power source to support and sustain increased renewable generation given the intermittent nature of renewables. Technological improvements have decreased oil and natural gas production costs, reduced environmental impacts, and improved energy security. On this educational NARUC-DOE Natural Gas Partnership (NGP) webinar, the Honorable Diane X. Burman, New York, facilitated a discussion with DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas Shawn Bennett who presented highlights from the report and discuss key takeaways for state energy regulators.
    Opening remarks by Commissioner Diane X. Burman, New York
    Speaker: Shawn Bennett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas, U.S. Department of Energy
    View recording
    View presentation
  • Con Edison AMI-Enabled Natural Gas Detector Program Briefing, October 16, 2020
    Staff from Consolidated Edison of New York provided a briefing to NARUC members regarding a pilot program exploring the deployment of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)-enabled natural gas detectors in residential buildings, based on a successful pilot program incorporating recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board following the August 2016 Silver Spring, MD gas leak and explosion.
    Opening remarks by Commissioner Diane X. Burman, New York
    Co-moderators:
    • Commissioner Jay Balasbas, Washington
    • Kevin Speicher, Chief, Natural Gas and Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety, New York State Department of Public Service
    Speakers:
    • Marc Huestis, Senior Vice President, Gas Operations, Consolidated Edison of New York
    • Melissa Corniel, Project Manager, Project Management & Customer Programs, Consolidated Edison of New York
    • Jonathan Diaz, Engineer, Gas Distribution Integrity Management, Consolidated Edison of New York
    View recording
    View presentation  
  • ARPA-E REPAIR Briefing, September 18, 2020
    Cast iron, wrought iron, and bare steel natural gas distribution pipes make up 3% of the nearly 2 million miles of utility pipes in use, but account for a disproportionate number of gas leaks and pipe failures compared to more recently replaced infrastructure. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Rapid Encapsulation of Pipelines Avoiding Intensive Replacement (REPAIR) program seeks to rehabilitate these pipes by developing a suite of technologies to enable the automated construction of new pipe inside existing pipe. On this briefing, staff from ARPA-E and three of the project teams receiving REPAIR funding provided an overview of the program and short presentations on their objectives, process, and challenges.
    Opening remarks by Commissioner Diane X. Burman, New York
    Co-moderators:
    • Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, North Dakota
    • Commissioner D. Ethan Kimbrel, Illinois
    Speakers:
    • Dr. Jack Lewnard, Program Director, ARPA-E
    • Dr. Todd Danko, Principal Roboticist, GE Global Research
    • Dr. Farah Singer, Associate Project Manager, ULC Robotics
    • Dr. Gerald Wilson, President & CEO, Autonomic Materials
    View recording
    View presentation  
  • Dynamic Delivery: America's Evolving Oil and Natural Gas Transportation Infrastructure, August 17, 2020
    The National Petroleum Council (NPC) provides advice, at the request of the Secretary of Energy, on matters related to oil and gas. The NPC's 2019 report, “Dynamic Delivery: America’s Evolving Oil and Natural Gas Transportation Infrastructure,” convened a diverse group of expert stakeholders from oil, gas, and related industries, state and federal governments, Native American Tribes, advocacy groups, consultancies, and academia. This effort involved over 306 participants. Notably, 44% of these participants are employed by organizations outside of the oil and natural gas industry. The overarching goal of the NPC’s infrastructure study was to analyze the changing dynamics of U.S. oil and natural gas transportation infrastructure. The study provides detailed policy recommendations directed to other federal agencies and states. As such, DOE is engaging with partners, including state agencies, to make them aware of the report and its findings.
    On this webinar, the NPC Coordinating Subcommittee Government and Industry Co Chairs and Industry Task Group Chairs responsible for the four Task Group Chapters of the 2019 report summarized their findings and highlight lessons for state regulators.
    Speakers:
    • Amy Shank, Williams Companies
    • Shawn Bennett, U.S. DOE
    • Paul McNutt, ConocoPhillips
    • Brooke Harris, ExxonMobil
    • Mark Gebbia, Williams Companies
    • Jay Churchill, Phillips 66
    • Doug Sauer, Phillips 66
    View recording
    View presentation
  • Natural Gas Policy Institute, August 27 - 28, 2019, Chicago, IL
    NARUC members spoke on three panels covering gas-electric interdependencies, resilience and reliability of natural gas infrastructure, and methane leak detection technologies during an educational event hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Regulators built valuable links to state legislators and improved their understanding of the role of public utility commissions and legislatures in enhancing pipeline reliability and efficiency.

  • Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Workshop, July 23, 2019, Indianapolis, IN
    State regulators led an informational workshop at NARUC’s 2019 Summer Policy Summit exploring renewable natural gas (RNG) from production to processing, transmission and distribution, and end uses. Expert panelists representing a wide range of stakeholders provided an orientation on RNG, overview of benefits and barriers, and summary of infrastructure issues associated with interconnecting higher levels of RNG in existing pipelines. The workshop concluded with a discussion of options available to state regulators and policymakers to advance the RNG market to deliver benefits to ratepayers and the environment. NARUC staff produced a summary of the presentations and discussions.

  • 2019 Cove Point LNG Tour, February 12, 2019, Lusby, MD
    NARUC staff worked with Dominion Energy, NARUC members, and DOE to schedule a tour of the Cove Point LNG export facility in Lusby, Maryland, in conjunction with the NARUC 2019 Winter Policy Summit on February 12, 2019. Commissioners toured the facility and discussed regulatory oversight of LNG export.

  • 2018 Methane Leak Detection Technologies Site Visit and Technical Workshop, September 18 - 19, 2018, Boston, MA
    On September 18 and 19, 2018, NARUC commissioners visited Physical Sciences, Inc. (PSI) and Heath Consultants in Andover, MA, to tour a project funded by the DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) program. The PSI/Heath project team was researching drone-based methane leak detection and exhibited this technology for commission attendees during an in-person visit on September 18, 2018. Attendees also participated in a technical workshop on September 19, 2018 at the Massachusetts DPU in Boston highlighting a full suite of commercially available technologies for leak detection.

Funder:

  • NARUC is grateful to the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, Office of Oil and Natural Gas for funding the Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization Partnership (NGIMP), which enables the resources and activities described on this webpage.

Key Members of the Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization Partnership:

  • Commissioner Diane X. Burman, Chair of NGIMP, New York State Public Service Commission
  • Andreas Thanos, Staff Chair of NGIMP, Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
  • Commissioner D. Ethan Kimbrel, Illinois Commerce Commission
  • Commissioner Jay Balasbas, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

NARUC staff experts who support these activities include: