Gas outages hit 10K in Rhode Island after issue on Algonquin pipeline

Source: By Gavin Bade, Utility Dive • Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Rhode Island gas outages illustrate how problems with gas transportation can affect end use customers far afield from the original disruption.

On Monday, Enbridge said a pipeline explosion had injured two people and damaged two structuresin Noble County, Ohio. The explosion affected part of its Texas Eastern system, a 9,000-mile network of pipelines that supplies gas to the Northeast, including the Algonquin transmission line.

Enbridge did not say how that incident affected gas service to its utility customers, including National Grid. But later on Monday, the Rhode Island utility began to experience low pressure issues, prompting it to cut service to more than 7,000 customers, amounting to more than 10,000 individuals.

“The under-pressurization from the gas transmission line caused issues on our system in the Portsmouth area,” National Grid Rhode Island President Tim Horan said at a Monday evening press conference. “We’ve had to shut off roughly 360 customers in Middletown. We’re actually working to get them shut down and turned on over the next few days, but the 6,700 customers in Newport were shut down for safety reasons.”

The utility wanted to ensure “there is no issue out there on the system,” Horan said, “but there wasn’t enough pressure in the system to get the customers back on the way we did with the rest of the system, and that’s why we shut this down.”

The under-pressurization issue comes months after the opposite issue — an over-pressurization problem — caused multiple gas explosions in Massachusetts, killing one person and injuring 10. Federal transportation authorities in November issued five safety recommendations after the accident, including a review of pipeline operator NiSource’s “records and documentation of natural gas systems.”