Good Morning. Today is day five of no natural gas service in Newport, RI. After a mild yet stormy day yesterday with temps in the low 50s, this morning is sunny with temps in the low to mid 30s.
It’s hard to believe a mechanical issue could be the culprit of this man-made disaster. And that’s what it is. Because the United States is the Saudi Arabia of oil and natural gas. Take a look at the Marcellus formation in PA and you can see that it’s the lack of pipelines that are keeping Newport in the cold. The thin and narrow pipeline capacity that feeds natural gas to the Northeast is like sipping on a straw from a swimming pool.
And yet everyone touts the windmills and solar that don’t work in tandem on a calm day like today, or a cloudy one like yesterday. And politicians talk about green energy initiatives to garner more votes while energy efficient windows do nothing to heat homes.
As of Friday, we are still in the shutoff phase, where each gas connection to homes needs to be turned off. Most of the approx. 6,400 gas meters have been shutoff, but around 200 remain. These are the tough ones. To lawfully gain access when nobody’s home, for example, a rep from National Grid is aided by a locksmith and watched by a police officer. This takes time. The forecast is calling for colder weather.
Once the meters are off, National Grid will re-pressurize the Newport system. Then licensed technicians (by law) must go house to house to relight the furnace of every home. We were told last night by Governor Raimondo this could take five to six more days.
The last major natural gas outage that was man-made was in New Mexico in 2011, it knocked 30,000 out of the grid. It was a low pressurization problem with a faulty valve (frozen) much like this one. After months of investigation and hand-wringing, it turned out that protocols put in place from a similar event years earlier where not followed. And if you read the hearings from the task force of politicians and officials, it’s full of thank yous and drama, but light on solutions. When government’s involved, only acronyms take the blame.
Looking forward it’s hard to see how a lack of pipeline capacity, an antiquated system and aging infrastructure get fixed in a clean energy world. Once upon a time, natural gas was clean. The way things feel today, natural gas is the new coal and if they can’t stop the fracking they’ll do their best to take away the (paper) straws.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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