Terminology: What is an EBB?

I work with a lot of young people in the energy industry.  They are often in the technology end of the business, but they are just as likely to be from the business side of natural gas.  When the term ‘EBB’ comes up, I get the quizzical look and the imminent question…”What is an EBB”?  And it is a question that I don’t like answering because it is somewhat embarrassing.

EBB stands for Electronic Bulletin Board.  Back in the days before the Internet, there was EnerNet.  EnerNet was a company that formed out of the FERC Order 436 requirement that interstate pipelines make certain information publicly available for shippers and potential customers on their pipeline.  We didn’t have the Internet, but we had fancy 2400 baud dial up modems.  Some pipelines formed their own public boards for posting this information and some subscribed to services, such as EnerNet to make that information available.

The EBB is a term that has lived a good life and a long life, but to use the term today causes confusion.  Today, in natural gas we have websites.  An interstate pipeline usually has two distinct website offerings to meet regulatory requirements: the Customer Activities Website (CAW) and the Informational Postings Website (IPW).

CAW and IPW have meaning.  When you mention a CAW you know that this is the secured access site that customers use to transact business with a pipeline. When you mention and IPW you know that you are referring to the public information, unsecured posted information on a pipeline.

So does the EBB cover both the CAW and the IPW or is it something else? Good question!  In some of the NAESB standards they refer to the EBB/EDM as those electronic standards related to the website without specification of whether this is the IPW or CAW.  Elsewhere in NAESB WGQ definitions there is a definition of EBB/EDM that points directly to the CAW with no mention of the IPW. If you go deep enough to look at the EDM manuals, you will see that the EDM subcommittee has distinguished that EBB is the CAW and they refer to the IPW as IP/EDM.

Are you confused yet? You are not alone.  It is time to change the terminology and put the EBB term to rest and let the distinct IPW and CAW terms become the common language.

The answer to the question is that, even though Electronic Bulletin Board precedes the internet, it refers to the Customer Activities Website in Natural Gas.  For me, I try to avoid the term all together and just refer to them as CAW and IPW.

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