While electric utilities scramble to keep up with the wind-whipped wildfires’ continuing fury Wednesday, the natural gas distribution and transmission operations of Sempra Energy’s two utilities in Southern California have remained mostly unscathed, according to spokespersons for the two utilities, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas Co. (SDG&E).
Collectively, the Sempra utilities represent the largest natural gas distribution system in the nation, including one of the largest in-state transmission pipeline and underground storage operations, providing more than 130 Bcf of storage capacity.
“There’s been no significant impact on the natural gas delivery system,” according to a Los Angeles-based Sempra spokesperson, speaking for SoCalGas. “We’re asking customers not to turn off their gas unless they smell gas, and we are assessing the damaged areas as police and fire authorities let our field workers back in. We’ll be going into areas where homes have been destroyed or damaged and will turn off the gas in those areas.
“The assessments and shutoffs will continue into next week most likely, particularly up in the mountains in the Lake Arrowhead area. As the fire department allows, we’ll be going into those areas that have been burned and abandoning service.”
Otherwise, the natural gas system overall continues to operate reliably and safely, the utility said. The SoCalGas system includes two major underground storage facilities at depleted oil and gas production fields in the north end of Los Angeles County where up to three major wildfires have threatened major residential areas and disrupted transportation corridors. The Aliso Canyon and Honor Rancho storage fields account for more than 100 Bcf of the utility’s capacity.
SDG&E reported Wednesday morning that its distribution operations had experienced 31 gas outages affecting 1,608 customers in five communities, many of them in the evacuated Rancho Bernardo and adjacent areas.
“With the unpredictable nature of the fire we do not have an estimated time for power restorations, ” the utility said, adding a message for all customers to conserve energy as much as possible as they were allowed back in many homes Wednesday morning.
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