The Hidden Flexibility of the Natural Gas Network for Electric Power Operations: A Case Study of a Near-Miss Winter Event

Andrew Fay, Getnet Ayele, Carlo Brancucci, Sule Amadu, Brian Sergi

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The U.S. power sector has become increasingly reliant on gas pipeline networks to deliver fuel to natural gas power plants. In addition to supplying relatively low-cost fuel, gas networks offer generators flexibility in their operations through the ability to deliver fuel when needed by using gas storage facilities or linepack if the gas network is at an operating point below its design capacity. However, disruptions or stress events on the gas network - like those occurring in the Northeast and Texas in recent years - can result in limitations on gas availability to generators at times when generation is in short supply. Here we examine a period of stress that occurred in the winter of 2022 in the Western United States. Using data on the region's natural gas pipeline network and electric generators, we build an integrated gas and electric model that closely replicates the actual dispatch of the period. We then evaluate the implications of removing flexibility employed by the gas network operator, which during that period curtailed scheduled gas deliveries to other parties to increase deliveries to natural gas power plants, which requested more gas than initially forecasted. We find that without the flexibility supplied by the gas network operator, there would have been curtailment of gas generation due to gas offtake constraints, requiring the power system operator to redispatch relying on more expensive generation or to potentially shed load. A sensitivity exploring a wind drought further exacerbates the strain, illustrating the potential challenge of managing gas and grid interactions as systems move to higher shares of variable renewable electricity. Based on this example, we discuss potential coordination strategies between the two system operators to ensure that the power system can successfully utilize and rely on the flexibility offered by natural gas networks.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A40-85294


  • co-simulation
  • coordination
  • electric power
  • natural gas
  • SAInt


Dive into the research topics of 'The Hidden Flexibility of the Natural Gas Network for Electric Power Operations: A Case Study of a Near-Miss Winter Event'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this