SoCalGas Warns of a Disruption to the Supply of Natural Gas to Southern California

Natural Gas

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is on the spot after it reported to the California utilities and energy authorities that it could fail to supply enough natural gas for its customers in case of a severe and lengthy winter. SoCalGas blamed three pipelines, currently in a state of disrepair, that supply natural gas to SoCalGas’s Aliso Canyon storage site. However, SoCalGas confirmed that the supply of natural gas would return to normalcy once it fixes the pipelines. The company is scheduled to fix the first line by the end of December and the second line by May 2018. SoCalGas has not disclosed when the third line will be fixed.
President of the California Public Utilities Commission Michael Picker stated that the supply of natural gas to southern California would be unaffected under normal winter conditions. Picker and other state regulators are urging consumers of natural gas to minimize their consumption of the energy resource during winter to avoid strain on the system. In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Picker warned that the current natural gas situation in southern California is unappealing as it is and efforts should be made to salvage the situation.
California Energy Commission alongside California Public Utilities Commission is currently instituting measures to relieve the gas system. The measures include reviewing strategies applied in other states such as paying the customer to minimize the dependence on natural gas during peak hours. Robert Weisenmiller, the chairman of the Energy Commission, affirmed the state organ’s commitment to evaluating all measures that could relieve the strain on the gas system.
The recent revelation by SoCalGas reinforces a 2016 report by utilities and regulators that put Aliso Canyon at the heart of South California’s natural gas supply system. The regulators argued that if Aliso Canyon remained dysfunctional, southern California could experience over 14 blackouts in summer and as much as 18 outages during other times of the year.
However, consumer groups and critics of the utility are reading from a different script. They believe that SoCalGas’s intentions are meant to justify the presence of the natural gas storage facility at Aliso Canyon, which some lawmakers and neighbors are vouching for its permanent closure. Previously, a four-month leak at the plant forced over eight thousand families to relocate. Many complained of headaches, nausea, nosebleed, etc. Bill Powers, an engineer and a frequent utility critic, wondered why the company required a lot of time to fix the pipelines.