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Northwest gas utilities ask customers to cut gas use after Enbridge pipe rupture

Multiple natural gas utilities asked customers to limit their energy use after an Enbridge Inc. natural gas transmission pipeline ruptured in British Columbia, potentially cutting into gas access in the northwestern U.S.

Puget Sound Energy Inc., Cascade Natural Gas Corp. and Avista Corp.'s Avista Utilities on Oct. 10 told residential and commercial customers to cut back on gas use until further notice in light of the incident. Avista said it also had asked industrial customers to curtail their usage, and Puget Sound Energy said it would switch its gas-fired power generators to run on alternative fuels. The three utilities serve a combined 1.4 million gas customers, mostly in Washington and Oregon.

The utilities noted that the pipeline rupture did not cause any damage to their gas systems.

Enbridge on Oct. 9 shut down its ruptured 36-inch pipeline, as well as a 30-inch pipeline that runs parallel to it. Both pipelines, located near Prince George in British Columbia, deliver gas to the U.S. Pacific Northwest region. Canada's National Energy Board gave Enbridge permission to return the 30-inch line to service after an integrity assessment. Enbridge plans to gradually raise pressure on the line to about 80% of its normal operating capacity.

"Once this process is safely completed, some much-need capacity will be restored for our customers," Enbridge said.

The Oct. 9 incident resulted in a fire, which has since been extinguished, and the evacuation of about 100 members of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation.

Canadian electric and gas utility Fortis Inc. also said the rupture may affect gas supply to its FortisBC Inc. customers in Prince George and other locations in British Columbia. FortisBC serves about one million gas customers and about 70% could lose gas supply as a result of the rupture, Fortis said in an Oct. 10 news release.