|Technical Conference on Winter Energy Pricing and Supply|
The Commission convened a technical conference this week to examine winter energy pricing and supply. FERC Staff and NYPSC Staff began the conference with an overview of the events experienced this winter. FERC Staff reported that they have not seen indications of market misconduct thus far, but their investigation is on-going. A number of participants remarked that the prices experienced were not the result of a lack of natural gas supply but rather a scarcity of pipeline capacity. This prompted the Commission to ask which entities should bear the responsiblity for ensuring firm capacity in the State.
The Commission was keenly interested in the availability of fixed price products for consumers, particularly longer term fixed price options. The Chairwoman even noted that it may be wortwhile to reexamine the role of utilities in offering fixed price products.
Participants noted that New York benefitted this winter from the availability of dual-fuel generation. However, it was reported that the petroleum fuel industry infrastructure is shrinking due to lack of demand, which in turn, limits the ability to call this resource into use in emergency situations. It was also highlighted that with the retirements of non-gas generation in neighboring jurisdictions, that New York will effectively be back-stopping its neighbors by virtue of its dual-fuel capability.
Chairwoman Zibelman and Commissioner Brown concluded the conference with the observation of the fuel interdependencies (electric, natural gas, oil) and related infrastructure needs as well as regional market interdependencies. Chairwoman Zibelman also discussed the need to find a way to better protect consumers, either through fixed products from ESCOs or possibly from utilities. She said this is one issue encompassed in the goal of the REV proceeding - finding how to better animate the retail market.