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Regulation | RNG

CPUC Releases Study Investigating Benefits of Injecting RNG into Natural Gas Pipeline

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August 6, 2018

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently released a comprehensive review of the technology and issues concerning injecting RNG into the natural gas pipeline. “Biomethane in California Common Carrier Pipelines: Assessing Heating Value and Maximum Siloxane Specifications,” conducted by the California Council on Science and Technology, covers the different sources of biomethane, meeting pipeline specifications, and concerns that might arise with RNG deployment scenarios.

The report is the CPUC’s first step toward complying with SB 1383, which directs California’s regulatory agencies to create “policies and incentives to increase the sustainable production and use of RNG.”

Guidance allows clear, precise regulations

“Technical assessments are critical for the expansion of heavy-duty NGVs to identify and overcome barriers to pipeline interconnection and injecting biomethane into the pipeline. Studies like this will help state agencies develop clear and precise rules and regulations,” said CNGVC President Thomas Lawson.

“Many of the projects working to interconnect and inject biomethane into the pipeline are also sites where RNG is used as a transportation fuel,” he added. “This is an intersection of CPUC and NGV stakeholders.”

Coalition recommendations for advancing biomethane

In comments submitted July 27 to the CPUC, the Coalition cites the economic and environmental benefits of RNG as a transportation fuel, noting that the agency already recognizes the important role RNG is playing in helping California clean up the heavy-duty truck sector and reduce greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants.

The Coalition also asks the CPUC to develop policies that will strengthen rulemaking and encourage private-sector investment in RNG as a long-term solution for decarbonizing the transportation sector, with strong support for recommendations by the Bioenergy Association of California. These include:

  • Establishing a biomethane procurement policy for the state, which would ensure ongoing market certainty for pipeline injection projects.
  • Allocating a portion of the revenues from gas utility companies’ cap-and-trade allowance to projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Adopting pipeline standards for biogas sourced from a variety of waste sources in addition to food waste.

“This study was a first step,” said Lawson. “The CPUC’s ongoing proceedings to meet legislative mandates will provide key parts of the puzzle for realizing the goal of clean air in California.”

Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission

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