Low on Natural Gas, California Told to Power Down

Friday, February 07, 2014

Water isn't the only resource running short in California. The drought-stricken state is also low on natural gas.

With a move that usually comes in the height of summer when temperatures are soaring and air conditioners blasting, Californians were urged to voluntarily cut their electricity use after frigid weather across the U.S. and Canada caused a shortage of natural gas at Southern California power plants.

The so-called Flex Alert, in which residents are asked to turn off unneeded lights, avoid using large appliances or equipment, and turn off electrically powered heaters, was allowed to expire at 10 p.m. Thursday, nine hours after it began.

The shortage was only in Southern California, but the north was asked to do its part too.

Research firm Bentek Energy said in a statement that domestic natural gas production dropped about 1 percent in January from the previous month. That doesn't include Alaska or Hawaii.

"The recent and persistent cold in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest regions affected overall production this month, given that wells can freeze during very cold weather," Jack Weixel, Bentek's director of energy analysis, said in a statement.

For the full article, go to www.ap.org.