You may recall that Newport, RI had a natural gas disaster earlier this year leaving 7,455 customers without gas (read: no heat) on the coldest day of winter.
Turns out it was another manmade disaster.
Yesterday, the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC) released its report and here are the reasons:
First, demand for natural gas was in excess of contractual limits by the Algonquin interstate pipeline driven by sudden low temps.
I would think this one could have been avoided. It gets cold, real cold in Rhode Island during the winter. There will be an increase in demand for gas again in the future in January.
Second, Narragansett Electric operates an uninterruptible power system at the LNG storage and vaporization facility in Providence. This system failed, shuttling down vaporizers which caused a sudden and very large increase in demand for gas from the Algonquin pipeline into the Providence area.
What’s incredible is Narragansett Electric did not inform DPUC of the failure of the vaporizers in Providence until 39 days after the event and did not conduct an appropriate after-action review following the gas outage.
Third, there was a valve misfunction on The Algonquin pipeline at a meter station in Weymouth, MA, operated by Enbridge. The malfunction was from a programming error made in September of 2018 that caused the valve to continuously open and close, rather than remain open to allow more gas to flow.
Does anyone see a problem here? How hard would it be for this to happen again? And wouldn’t someone seeking to do harm find a way to hack this program?
You can read more about the experience here.