After the leak began in October 2015, the Southern California Gas Company stopped using the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. The fuel storage location provides 11 million people across the region with gas.
"These pipelines also cannot transport gas fast enough to meet the hour-by-hour or changing demands of power plants during the summer when electricity demand peaks," said Mark Rothleder, vice president of the California Independent System Operator, the group that oversees the state’s electric grid.
To avoid rolling blackouts that would affect millions of people living in Southern California, authorities have opted for scheduled outages. Under a draft plan prepared by California energy agencies, rolling short-term outages will occur over a period of some 14 days in the summer months, and could also occur later in the year, spanning another eight to 18 days.
In a bid to prevent blackouts, state energy agencies issued a set of recommendations for customers, aimed at mitigating electricity shortage risks. These recommendations include advice like keeping the temperature on home water heaters low, taking shorter showers and shutting off gas-powered barbecues.
The news came amid heated discussions over the fate of the Aliso Canyon facility following the leak. Thousands of local residents were forced out of their homes and many have called for the aging facility to be shut down. The threat of looming blackouts may change their minds.
The shutdown of gas supplies will be lifted only after engineers check and verify the integrity of all 114 wells at the facility.