Aliso Canyon gas leak could lead to summer blackouts, officials warn

Limited operations at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility following a massive leak could lead to as many as 14 days of electrical service interruptions in the greater Los Angeles area this summer, state energy experts predicted Tuesday.

The news prompted a call from Mayor Eric Garcetti for residents to conserve energy to help reduce the risk of power loss.

Southern California Gas Co. is under orders not to inject anymore gas into the underground Aliso Canyon storage facility until safety checks have been done on all 114 wells at the site and other steps have been taken to protect against future leaks.

"The implementation of these safety measures means that the Aliso Canyon facility is not operating as it normally does to provide gas for the energy demands in the greater Los Angeles area," according to a report released by state energy officials.

The storage facility supplies gas to 11 million customers in the area who use it to heat their homes and water, and for cooking. The gas is also used by "natural gas-fired power plants that play a central role meeting regional electrical demand," the report said.

According to the report, the "limited current operations of the facility create a distinct possibility of electricity service interruptions in the coming summer months."

Energy officials also noted that "using most or all the gas remaining in Aliso Canyon during this summer would result in greater risk of shortages next winter if normal operations of the facility are not restored in time to
store new gas there for winter use."

Another analysis will be done on "challenges for the upcoming winter in the event of continued constrained operations at Aliso Canyon," according to the report.

SoCalGas officials said they "look forward to working in partnership with the responsible regulatory agencies in our shared efforts to provide a continued supply of dependable gas and electric services in the region.''

Garcetti said the report highlights the fact that even though the "disastrous gas leak" has been plugged, "the consequences continue."

"Our Department of Water and Power is working closely with state energy agencies to reduce the electric reliability risks we face in the coming summer months as a result of gas shortages," he said.

Garcetti said Angelenos "can all help get through this tough period by conserving energy, making our buildings more efficient, and taking other actions that reduce our use of electricity and natural gas.

The city will be rolling out rebates and incentives to help the public conserve energy, he said.

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