East Tennessee Gas Notifies AUB of Natural Gas Curtailment

Media Contact:

Wayne Scarbrough

(423) 745-4501 ext. 6002


December 17, 2018


ATHENS, Tenn. – The East Tennessee Natural Gas Pipeline has cited contractual Force Majeure that includes a system-wide Operational Flow Order on natural gas services. The pipeline is the wholesale supplier to Athens Utilities Board (AUB).


Force Majeure, meaning “superior force,” is cited in many contracts to free parties of certain contract obligations under extraordinary and uncontrollable circumstances.


While the extent of the pipeline emergence is still unclear, the situation could preclude the pipeline from fulfilling its supply contracts with distributors like AUB and other utility organizations served by the pipeline.


“An Operational Flow Order is issued when the supplier is having difficulty matching its ability to supply gas with the system’s demand for gas,” said AUB’s Wayne Scarbrough.


“We usually get such an order based on extreme cold, when the pipeline just needs to lower the peak demand for a short period on a super cold morning.  This is a different situation.  This apparently is based on pipeline damage that is affecting wholesale supply, and they have not told us how long it may last,” Scarbrough said.


While representatives of the pipeline have not confirmed the emergency situation causing the curtailment, media in Middle Tennessee on Saturday reported a gas pipeline explosion in the community of Pleasant Shade in Smith County.


“We don’t know with certainty, but this event may be the reason the pipeline is calling for such a quick and deep curtailment of gas use,” said AUB’s Wayne Scarbrough.


With the pipeline possibly not able to fulfill the obligated amount of natural gas in contracts with distributors like AUB, all natural gas customers are being asked to curtail any gas usage possible.  


AUB officials have contacted local industrial customers that utilize interruptible natural gas contracts advising of the requirement to curtail gas usage.


Industrial customers often utilize interruptible contracts because of lower rate available.  But the lower rate comes with risk.


“The rate is lower because they also take on the risk of days like today, when the pipeline makes a curtailment declaration and they have to either shut processes down or switch to a backup fuel source, such as onsite storage,” Scarbrough said.


At this time, the pipeline has not issued an end time or date on this period of curtailment.


AUB is appealing to natural gas users to conserve natural gas and help out where you can. For instance:

-Refrain from using any decorative items such as natural gas fire logs.

-Consider alternative dinner plans within the home rather than using a gas cooktop or oven.

-Adjust your thermostat to a lower level.

-Lower the temperature on your water heater.