Why SoCal Gas Wants You To Just Chill When It's Cold Outside

A sign marking the boundary of the Aliso Canyon storage facility is pictured in Porter Ranch, California, Jan. 6, 2016. (Jonathan Alcorn/AFP/Getty Images)

The ongoing cold weather has made it difficult for the Southern California Gas Company to keep enough gas flowing. It now seems a broken pipeline at its big storage field near Porter Ranch made the situation worse.

On Feb. 5, an above-ground pipeline at SoCal Gas' Aliso Canyon storage field was found to be corroded and needed repairs. That reduced any withdrawals of gas to serve homes and businesses or to send out to utilities.

So, for three cold days early this month, with night temperatures dropping to the 40s, utilities were forced to cut the amount of gas they could receive to run their power plants.

SoCal Gas had already been pleading with consumers to lower their thermostats to conserve gas. The utility asked for "Dial it Down" alerts 29 days this year.

Ever since the disastrous 2015 leak at Aliso, state regulators have limited how much gas is stored there. Withdrawals are supposed to occur only as a last resort to prevent a shortage.

But that "last resort" scenario has happened repeatedly this year. SoCal Gas has withdrawn 6.6 billion cubic feet of gas over 19 separate days.

That's about a quarter of the 28 billion cubic feet of gas company has pulled out of its four combined storage fields this year. Aliso Canyon is the biggest gas field and most convenient to the L.A. Basin. The other fields are at Playa del Rey, Honor Rancho near Valencia and Goleta in Santa Barbara County.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the effect of the broken pipe on withdrawals of gas. LAist regrets the error.