Southern California braces for summer blackouts due to Porter Ranch gas leak

State officials warn that Southern California could face as many as 14 days of scheduled blackouts this summer because of depleted reserves of natural gas caused by the massive leak in Aliso Canyon.

The canyon in the hills above Porter Ranch is a crucial gas storage facility, supplying 17 power plants in the Los Angeles Basin. But the four-month leak that began in October left the facility at one-fifth of its capacity and new injections of gas have been prohibited until all of its wells have passed comprehensive tests.

Officials estimate the storage facility won’t be back on line for months, leaving local power plants without a key source of natural 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, one of four agencies that warned of the blackouts in a draft report released Tuesday.

Millions of energy customers could be affected in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties.

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