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This Deal Just Saved L.A. From Losing Some Of Its Gas Supply

The sun sets behind power lines and poles in Rosemead, California, on July 9, 2018. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
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The chance that Los Angeles might lose more of its already-constrained supply of natural gas and face an increased risk of power outages was averted Friday when SoCal Gas reached an agreement with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.

The utility and tribal government had been at a standoff over rights of way for the pipelines that carry one-quarter of the Los Angeles basin's supply of gas across Morongo land in Riverside County near Cabazon.

Their joint announcement that they had reached an "agreement in principle" came just three days before the right of way on the second of three pipelines was due to expire. Another pipeline already went offline in March.

Without a deal, two of the three pipelines could have been shut off. Losing the second pipeline could have increased the potential for sudden power outages during these hot summer months.

During the hottest days, power plants in Los Angeles rely on a supply of natural gas to generate electricity. If a gas shortage occurs, power plants can be denied gas to preserve the supply for homes and businesses.

L.A.'s gas supply is already constrained, thanks to other broken and closed pipelines, as well as a state-ordered limit on gas from the Porter Ranch storage reservoir after the 2015 blowout.

SoCal Gas had started negotiations more than two years ago, but offered far less than the tribe wanted. The tribe countered by asking for $307 million upfront -- or $25 million a year for 50 years. It's unclear where the two sides ended up, as those details are still being worked out.

Whatever the new cost of the right-of-way, it could be passed on to ratepayers -- if the state Public Utilities Commission approves.

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