Puget Sound Energy has asked customers to conserve electricity and natural gas, and the Phillips 66 Ferndale refinery announced that it is adjusting operations in response to a natural gas pipeline rupture near Prince George, B.C.
According to a story published by CTV.com, the rupture, which occurred at approximately 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, caused a large fire that forced the evacuation of several homes in the rural community of Shelly, B.C., though most residents able to return home Tuesday night. Police told CTV that the gas line had been shut down, and the cause of the rupture was still being investigated.
In response, Puget Sound Energy put out a press release and sent emails to customers Wednesday morning saying PSE’s ability to supply natural gas could be affected. PSE also asked customers to set their thermostats at a lower setting, limit their use of hot water and reduce use of other natural gas and electric appliances.
“Although our supply gas has been impacted, there is no damage to the PSE gas system or safety hazard to our customers from the pipeline failure in Canada,” the release said.
The release also said PSE is switching natural gas generators to alternative fuels.
“We are hoping to have things back to normal by this evening,” PSE spokesperson Andrew Padula told The Bellingham Herald Wednesday. “At this point, we’re waiting to hear back from our operators in Canada.”
Padula said he was not sure to what extent operations at the natural gas-burning Ferndale Generating Station have been impacted, but he said there likely has been a slowdown.
“Natural gas helps fuel our electric service, so I’m sure it’s having an impact,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking people to conserve.”
Cascade Natural Gas also asked residential customers in a press release Wednesday to conserve. Cascade spokesperson Mark Hanson told The Herald Wednesday that some larger industrial users already had cut back their natural gas usage.
“We’re still monitoring the situation and hoping to get some more information from the supplier,” Hanson said. “We don’t have any pressure issues right now, though.”
One of the Whatcom County industries affected by the pipeline rupture is the Phillips 66 Ferndale refinery, Phillips 66 Director of Public Affairs Josh Summers said Wednesday in an email The Bellingham Herald.
“Natural gas is a vital feedstock to operate our Ferndale Refinery,” Summers said. “Cascade Natural Gas supply to the refinery has been disrupted by the Enbridge pipeline incident in British Columbia. The refinery is adjusting operations as needed to ensure the safety of our personnel and our community until the natural gas supply can be restored. Flaring will take place, as necessary to ensure the safety of our personnel and community.”
Spokesperson Michael Abendhoff told the Herald Wednesday that BP Cherry Point refinery also was assessing the situation.
“We’re not shutting down at this time, but we’re trying to get more information and make plans for how we will respond two, three, four days or longer depending on what happens with the pipeline,” Abendhoff said.
Also in a press release Wednesday, Shell announced that it will be shutting down its Puget Sound refinery in Anacortes “to safely and effectively manage the situation.”