PJM staff joined natural gas pipeline operators and local gas distribution companies this fall for a tabletop exercise designed to test responses to a simulated pipeline outage during extreme winter weather.
Participants from Enbridge Texas Eastern Pipeline, and gas distribution divisions from UGI Utilities and PSE&G, coordinated with PJM staff for the second annual emergency operations drill.
“These kinds of exercises are important opportunities for us to build relationships and collaborate on how we can best recover from challenging circumstances,” said Michael Bryson, Senior Vice President – Operations. “Any chance to improve our operations is a good thing.”
With over 8,800 miles of pipeline, Enbridge’s Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline connects Texas and the Gulf Coast with key supply basins and markets in the northeastern United States, supplying fuel for core market customers as well as electric generation facilities and helping to meet PJM’s energy and peak-day demands.
“At Enbridge, safety is our top priority. Our ability to communicate and coordinate in order to prevent or react to unanticipated pipeline outages is critical to reliably delivering the energy that people depend on every day. Exercises like this reinforce our procedures and relationships in order to quickly respond, and we applaud PJM for coordinating this effort,” noted Bill Whaley, Vice President of US Gas Control, Enbridge.
UGI Utilities and PSE&G serve both natural gas and electric customers, including several gas-fired generation resources within the PJM footprint and are PJM member companies. UGI serves approximately 655,000 natural gas customers and 62,000 electric customers in central and eastern Pennsylvania.
“UGI appreciates the opportunity to collaborate on exercises designed to enhance our emergency response,” Chris Brown, UGI Vice President and General Manager of Rates and Supply, said. “These simulations help to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of energy to our customers and assist in effective communications between UGI and its business partners.”
PSE&G is the largest electric and gas distribution company in New Jersey, serving 1.8 million natural gas customers and 2.3 million electric customers.
“PSE&G has an excellent safety record and is committed to ensuring the continued safety and integrity of our system through a host of measures including regular response exercises. More than 80 percent of New Jersey households use natural gas as the main source of heat – among the highest use rates in the nation,” said Michael Schmid, Vice President of Asset Management and Centralized Services at PSE&G. “These exercises improve coordination, communications and response strategy, helping us better serve our customers during actual emergencies.”
This year’s exercise builds on a similar tabletop exercise held in 2019 with Williams’ Transco natural gas pipeline. PJM has been at the forefront of coordinating with the natural gas industry, whose pipelines supply the gas-fired generators that make up more than 30 percent of the resources serving 65 million people in the PJM footprint.
The Oct. 21 tabletop exercise examined how participants would respond to unexpected natural gas pipeline disruptions during a period of extremely cold weather and high electricity demand.
The results of the exercise help PJM and gas industry participants evaluate the effectiveness of their communication and information sharing, as well as improve their understanding of gas/electric dependencies and sensitivities. Participants were asked to respond to the exercise scenario with a focus on problem-solving and provide insights based on their training and understanding of system operations.
Ensuring Power Industry Resilience
Natural gas and fuel-oil generators currently represent a significant source of generation in PJM. Analyzing the risks to the supply and transportation of natural gas and oil is therefore an important part of ensuring a reliable and resilient power grid.
Grid reliability is the ability to ensure the uninterrupted flow of electricity, while resilience represents the ability to operate through, and bounce back from, larger-scale or longer-term operational challenges. In addition to examining risks and building a more resilient grid, the exercises also build relationships that strengthen the ability of operators to coordinate and respond in the event of an actual emergency situation.