Spire Missouri cautions St. Louis area customers about potential service disruptions this winter without the Spire STL Pipeline
With regulatory uncertainty around Spire STL Pipeline’s certificate to operate after Dec. 13, Spire has developed contingency plans to support the health and safety of the region and reduce impact to residential customers and critical needs providers
ST. LOUIS (November 5, 2021) – Spire Missouri is cautioning St. Louis area customers that their natural gas service could be impacted this winter, with risk of outages possible. Without Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval of a Temporary Emergency Certificate keeping the Spire STL Pipeline in operation through or beyond the end of the winter heating season, Spire Missouri estimates up to 400,000 homes and businesses could lose service during peak cold conditions.
“As the most reliable fuel source to heat homes, cook meals and fuel industry, natural gas outages are extremely rare. However, a St. Louis winter without the STL Pipeline in service is a different situation. We don’t want to alarm customers, but we want to be transparent with everyone about the energy they rely on,” says Scott Carter, president of Spire Missouri. “Customers need to know that without the STL Pipeline in service during winter weather, the possibility of service disruptions and outages throughout the St. Louis area is very real.”
The uncertainty comes after a June 22 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (DC Circuit) vacated the STL Pipeline’s FERC certificate to operate. While the court decision was directed at actions taken by the Commission during its original review of the Pipeline, the ruling has significant implications on Spire Missouri customers throughout the St. Louis region. Since this ruling, Spire STL Pipeline has been cooperating with the FERC to demonstrate the need for this critical infrastructure that ensures a reliable, affordable energy supply for the region. Although a short-term certificate was authorized on Sept. 14 by the FERC for continued operation of the STL Pipeline, that certificate expires on Dec. 13 ahead of what can be winter’s coldest period.
Spire has been working to keep the pipeline in service this winter as government regulators consider its long-term use. Just this week, Suzanne Sitherwood, Spire president and CEO, and Mark Darrell, Spire chief legal counsel, traveled to Washington D.C. to talk with as lawmakers to help them understand the potential impact to the St. Louis community.
“We feel that the comprehensive data submitted to the FERC has more than adequately demonstrated the need to keep the STL Pipeline in service this winter. The St. Louis region has a safe, established, high-performance pipeline that’s been bringing reliable and affordable natural gas to our community since 2019,” says Carter. “The initial temporary emergency certificate issued by the FERC is only valid through Dec. 13, and we have no guarantees today that the Commission will issue an additional certificate to cover the duration of the winter heating season. Cold weather in this area can last well into March or early April, and we want everyone to be aware and be prepared.”
With that uncertainty, Spire Missouri has secured and continues to explore alternative, emergency supply options. But, without the STL Pipeline in service, the reality is that the supply to our region is scarce. That’s why the utility has been coordinating with emergency management throughout the area, including the directors of the Emergency Operations Centers throughout the greater St. Louis area, as well as with elected officials and municipalities. Spire Missouri’s emergency plan was developed to support the health and safety of the region and reduce potential impact to residential customers and those critical needs providers, such as hospitals and nursing homes.
St. Louis area residential customers may be asked to turn down thermostats and reduce use of natural gas appliances while some large business customers may be asked to limit their overall use. Even with these measures, should extreme cold happen in the area, the possibility of outages exists. “Losing the STL Pipeline would have a detrimental impact on the health and safety, property and economic prosperity of the St. Louis region,” said Carter. “Since the STL Pipeline was approved in 2018 and began service in November 2019, Spire Missouri made significant changes to its supply, system, and operations. Those steps cannot be reversed for this winter and the previous sources of gas cannot fully replace the gas provided by STL under current market conditions.”
During Winter Storm Uri in Feb. 2021, STL Pipeline played a pivotal role in supplying the St. Louis region with reliable, affordable gas supply. Spire Missouri estimates that without it, up to 133,000 homes and businesses would have lost natural gas service during the extreme cold snap. “While other regions of the country faced severe service disruptions and higher energy costs, St. Louis stayed warm – thanks to the STL Pipeline,” said Carter.
Spire STL Pipeline continues to engage with all parties, including the FERC, about keeping the St. Louis region’s natural gas supply intact this winter. Spire Missouri encourages customers to visit SpireEnergy.com/Critical for updates.