All the gas flowing to the Florida peninsula was cut off overthe weekend after a lightning strike Friday afternoon caused a fireand pipe rupture at Florida Gas Transmission’s Station 15 nearPerry, FL, and knocked out all downstream service. The 24-inch,30-inch and 36-inch mainlines that converge in the station yardwere affected.

The 30-inch line was placed back in service Sunday using abypass, restoring 800,000 MMBtu/d of capacity for Monday’s gas day.FGT said Monday it is building another bypass for the 36-inch lineand its best estimate is that one can be brought back on-line forWednesday’s gas day, increasing the amount of downstream capacityto about 1,240,000 MMBtu/d. However, evaluations of damage to thestation and 24-inch line were continuing, and the pipeline said ithad no estimate of their potential in-service dates.

“It’s had a major impact on our largest customers: largeindustrial organizations, hospitals, prisons, large manufacturingbusinesses, businesses that are driven by gas technology,” saidTeco Energy spokesman Mike Mahony. Teco subsidiary Peoples Gas isthe largest retail gas distributor in the state of Florida,delivering 900 million therms per year of gas to 300,000 customers.”We had to contact 50 of our largest gas customers statewide andask them to curtail their loads until we could resume normalservice to them,” said Mahony. “Most of them did have oil as theirback-up and most had adequate reserves, but there were some thatdidn’t have sufficient back-up fuel. We tried to work with them asmuch as possible to get gas to them or at least ease the transitionfrom having a normal supply of gas to none. It’s been almost notdisruptive in any way to our residential customers whoincrementally use very little gas.”

Although it was warning South Florida residents Saturday of thepossibility of rolling blackouts due to the loss of gas supply,Florida Power & Light said Monday the blackouts wereunnecessary. It did use load management techniques for a couple ofhours Saturday with some commercial customers. FPL, the largestcustomer of FGT, was able to return two of its larger gas-firedunits to service following Sunday’s restoration of 30-inch lineflows, said FPL spokesman Bill Swank. All of the utility’sdual-fuel units have been converted to oil use but will be returnedto gas pending FGT’s completion of the 36-inch line bypass. Untilthat happens, Swank said, FPL will continue to appeal to customersfor energy conservation.

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