SoCalGas Taps Aliso Canyon For Second Straight Day

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – The Southern California Gas Company withdrew gas again Wednesday from the troubled Aliso Canyon storage facility.

This comes after crews pulled natural gas Tuesday morning from Aliso Canyon for the first time since January 2016.

According to a news release, SoCalGas pulled natural gas from Aliso Canyon from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday for what it termed “increased system demand” driven by the cold weather.

“This morning, as a result of the cold weather, hourly customer demand on our system significantly exceeded gas supplies being delivered through interstate pipelines and our other storage facilities,” the company said in a news release. “Withdrawals from Aliso Canyon played a critical role in helping us meet that peak demand. Over the last hour, demand on our system dropped and we were able to suspend withdrawals from Aliso Canyon.

An Aliso Canyon storage facility methane leak that began in October 2015 and was not capped until February 2016 emitted 109,000 metric tons of methane and displaced at least 7,000 Porter Ranch area residents for months.

SoCalGas has been prohibited from gas injection at Aliso Canyon since January of 2016. However, SoCalGas defended its gas withdrawal Tuesday by claiming it complied with a ruling by the California Public Utilities Commission, which authorized such a move to “help prevent service curtailments.”

SoCalGas officials said the gas was taken using “only those wells that have been approved for use by the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources.”

The utility issued an advisory warning to customers earlier this week, urging people to curtail gas usage when possible to prevent a shortage during the cold snap. That advisory remains in effect, with customers urged to lower thermostats to 68 degrees or lower, delay the use of natural gas appliances and wash clothes in cold water when possible.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support a bill by state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) that would extend the prohibition of gas injection into the Aliso Canyon facility until officials have determined the cause of the leak and publicly released the findings.

SB 146 would also change the deadline for the state Public Utilities Commission to open proceedings about the possibility of minimizing or eliminating the use of Aliso Canyon from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2017.

State regulators earlier this month issued a series of proposed regulations under which Southern California Gas Co. would be able to resume injecting natural gas into the Aliso Canyon facility, but at reduced amounts and lower pressure levels than the company requested.

A final decision on whether the injections can resume will not be made until after a pair of public hearings are held next month, allowing residents to comment on the proposed safety procedures and operating restrictions.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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