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NY PSC Report on Tropical Storm Response

NY PSC Report on Tropical Storm Response

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Published by Daily Freeman
June 28, 2012
June 28, 2012

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Published by: Daily Freeman on Jun 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Unlike the electric distribution system, natural gas systems are not directly
impacted by the strong winds that accompany hurricanes and tropical storms. Strong
winds affect the natural gas system indirectly by disrupting the electric and
communication services necessary for the remote operation of a natural gas system.
The main impact that hurricanes and tropical storms have on natural gas systems is their
flooding and the subsequent wash-outs that expose or damage natural gas pipelines.
Approximately 1,300 customers lost gas service as a direct result of
washouts and flooding events of Hurricane Irene. These outages were spread across all
the gas companies operating in eastern New York (Con Edison, Orange and Rockland,
Central Hudson, NYSEG, and National Grid). Only two companies, NYSEG and National
Grid, where affected by Tropical Storm Lee. Washouts and flooding from Lee caused
approximately 11,500 customers outages with NYSEG having approximately 11,000 of
those outages.

In anticipation of flooding, the local distribution companies (LDCs) shut-off
gas distribution mains and customer service meters in the areas where flooding, as
determined by local officials, is most likely to occur. Such action limits and prevents
natural gas from entering into flooded buildings. Provided there is no damage to the
distribution system, the restoration of gas service can occur as soon as flooding subsides
and the customer has at least one natural gas-fired piece of equipment in operational
condition. In addition to pre-emptive shut-offs, there was the flooding of buildings
throughout the event that caused many of the natural gas outages and contributed the
most fluctuation in outage numbers.

One of the most notable issues affecting the gas distribution system was
when the bridge where New York State Route 103 crosses the Mohawk River collapsed

CASE 11-M-0481

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due to flood waters compromising the single feed into the Town of Rotterdam Junction.
Given the timeframe to construct new facilities, National Grid opted to bring in a
temporary portable Liquidified Natural Gas (LNG) facility to restore service to the town.
While Staff believes the use of the LNG facility met the exempting criteria of 49 CFR
§193.2019, “for service maintenance during gas pipeline systems repair/alteration,” and
consequently under 16 NYCRR Part 259, questions were raised as to whether or not the
mobile LNG facility actually met the temporary nature of that exemption or if it would
need to meet siting requirements. Because the Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) has the authority to issue regulations concerning the siting of LNG
facilities and there is currently a moratorium on these facilities in New York State,
National Grid felt that it was necessary to seek DEC and the Executive Office's approval
for the use of temporary portable LNG facility. Approval was obtained and the mobile
LNG facility was placed into operation about one week after the bridge collapse and
service was restored to all customers in Rotterdam Junction capable of accepting gas
service by the next day. The unit remained in service until the newly constructed
crossing was placed in service on December 2.
After flood waters recede and local building code official certifies the
building can be re-inhabited, there must be at least one natural gas-fired appliance in
good working order for the LDC to restore service. Some LDCs formed re-entry teams
with building code officials, electric personnel and gas relight crews that function well
for the timely and safe restoration of both electric and gas services. Staff supports the
formation of such teams as a best practice for use in to similar future events. The
relights were performed in a timely manner by all the companies. Staff is satisfied with
the level of resources devoted to restoring natural gas service.

CASE 11-M-0481

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