The U.S. Gas Pipeline Transportation Market: An Introductory Guide with Research Questions for the Energy Transition
Environmental Defense Fund Economics Discussion Paper Series, EDF EDP 21-01
46 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 29, 2021
Natural gas currently represents close to a third of U.S. primary energy consumption and has often been described as a bridge fuel in the context of the ongoing energy transition. As coal plants are retired and the share of variable renewable resources in the U.S. power markets grows, power sector CO2 emissions are declining and gas-fired power plants increasingly relied upon to provide peak and balancing services to complement the variable electricity supply from wind and solar plants. Growth in gas-fired electricity generation in the past decade has made the power sector the largest user of the U.S. interstate gas pipeline network, just ahead of the industrial and building sectors. Nevertheless, future gas demand from these latter two sectors, and from the power sector, is expected to be reduced by policy and regulatory initiatives aimed at electrification of heating loads and economy-wide decarbonization. These developments open up important questions around the role of the U.S. interstate pipeline network in the ongoing energy transition. Such questions include what changes may be needed in the gas transportation markets to provide more flexible gas delivery services to gas-fired generators that provide valuable balancing in the power markets, and how long-term stranded asset risk for gas transportation infrastructure should be managed in the face of electrification and decarbonization. The objective of this paper is to facilitate further research to address these types of questions by outlining the main market features and regulations important for understanding the U.S. gas transportation market.
Keywords: Gas transportation markets, natural gas, pipelines, market design, economics of regulation, electrification, decarbonization
JEL Classification: D47, H54, L50, Q41, Q50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation