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Governor, regulators call for ‘thorough review’ to determine cause of gas outage

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NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — State regulators said they are planning a thorough review to find out what caused the massive gas outage in Newport County once gas service is restored.

A dramatic drop in pressure on Monday forced the utility company to suspend service to the lower portion of the island. National Grid estimated more than 10,000 people were affected by the outage at its peak.

In a statement to Target 12, Marylee Hanley, a spokesperson for for Algonquin Gas Transmission, blamed the gas emergency on a spike in demand as temperatures plummeted.

“Cold temperatures caused significantly higher demand for natural gas on the Algonquin Gas Transmission (Algonquin) system, which resulted in a disruption in service,” Hanley said.

“A temporary reduction in available natural gas supply into the Algonquin system exacerbated the conditions that led to this disruption in service,” Hanley added.

Target 12 asked Algonquin Gas Transmission if disruptions in service will continue to happen when the system is stressed by an increased demand. The company has not responded to the question.

National Grid claims the increased demand for gas did not cause the disruption in service.

“The root cause of this issue is not the spike in demand on a cold day,” said Terry Sobelewski of National Grid. “It was an interruption of gas supply in the Algonquin transmission system.”

Governor Gina Raimondo and the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers are promising a thorough review.

“Right now I am focused on the 10,000 people who don’t have heat, but we will get to the bottom of this,” Raimondo said during a news briefing Wednesday.

“DPUC is working closely with our federal partners in the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to determine both the cause and accountabilty for this event. We will get to the bottom of this,” DPUC administrator Macky McCleary said.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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