SCANA, AGL See Record Demand in Southeast

With the Southeast region of the United States experiencing near record cold temperatures this winter, it's no wonder SCANA Corp.'s subsidiary, South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G), and AGL Resources are saying that their customers are demanding record levels of energy.

SCE&G customers set a new winter peak demand record on Jan. 3, as 4,076 MW of electricity were used over a one-hour period during the morning. The new peak record dethrones the old record of 3,900 MW, which was established the morning of Dec. 20, 2000.

December 2000 set numerous records for South Carolina. The 24-hour winter energy use record of 81,133 MW was set on Dec. 20 as well, and the month was the coldest December on record in Columbia, SC, since 1917. SCE&G's all-time one-hour peak demand record and 24-hour demand record are still held by July 21, 2000. On that day, 4,211 MW of electricity were used in a one hour period and 84,006 MW set the 24-hour demand record.

Natural gas usage got into the record books in the state as well on Jan. 3, said SCE&G and South Carolina Pipeline Corp. The companies said the instantaneous day-rate use of natural gas going into the Columbia, SC city-gate reached a record 90 MMcf/d, while gas going into the Charleston, SC city gate reached a record 78 MMcf/d. SCE&G said Columbia's average instantaneous winter use is normally 60 MMcf/d, and Charleston averages approximately 50 MMcf/d.

"The near record cold temperatures in December and early January have significantly increased demand for both electricity and natural gas by our customers," said Neville Lorick, SCE&G's president. "While we are being tested to meet this record demand, we are encouraging our customers to exercise conservation measures to blunt the impact of expected higher energy bills."

AGL Resources spokesman Nick Gold said that Atlanta Gas Light's distribution system in Georgia is moving a remarkable amount of gas as well. "For us to get hit so cold for such a long period of time is really unusual. In fact, I think it is the coldest in decades. This past Saturday (Dec. 30) was our third highest send out of gas going through our system in company history. Everyone is under a great demand right now, which is really pushing our system to the limit."

Gold added that the levels of gas being moved this early in the season is unheard of. "December of 2000 versus December of 1999, we are sending out 30% more volume through our system then we were a year before."

Williams also reported that its Transco mainline is moving an above-average amount of gas for the period. "Mainline transportation utilization is in the high 90% range," said Chris Stockton, spokesman for Transco. He said that while it has been colder than normal for this time of year, the system has yet to set any peak-day records. He attributed this to spiking natural gas prices pushing some consumers to alternative fuel sources.

The SCANA subsidiaries assured that they were capable of meeting the demand of all of their firm customers, but said they were forced to curtail gas supplies to about 250 of their interruptible industrial customers. SCE&G and South Carolina Pipeline said they hope that forecasted warmer temperatures toward the end of the week will reduce natural gas demand to the point that they will be able to turn interruptible customers back on.

Alex Steis

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