Plan to prevent NM natural gas shortage stalled

Updated: 12/06/2013 10:44 PM | Created: 12/06/2013 10:30 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

More freezing weather is poised to slam New Mexico. It's bringing memories of the last deep freeze to the front of many minds.

In 2011, a natural gas shortage meant many New Mexicans - especially in the northern parts of the state - were unable to heat their homes.

New Mexico Gas has proposed a multi-million dollar facility to prevent a future crisis. 

New Mexico's energy grid was so strained, rolling blackouts crippled the state in 2011 and Gov. Martinez declared a state of emergency.

New Mexico Gas wants to keep that from happening again, but there's a catch keeping the project on hold. 

"It was so cold," said Rosa Jaquez. "I don't want to do anything else. Just to go into the bed, under the blankets, and that's it."

It's easy for Jaquez to remember what it was like two years ago to have no heat, and to wake up in the morning sometimes unable to move.

"When you lost something like that, you think you will never have that anymore," she said.

During the February 2011 natural gas crisis, Jaquez and her neighbors had no gas service in Bernalillo.

Massive blackouts spread across the state, prompting a state of emergency. It left folks like Jaquez nervous for what might happen next.

"The only thing we can do is just get ready for that," she said.

New Mexico Gas tells KOB they were extensively investigated after the crisis, and proposed a reserve liquid natural gas facility near Double Eagle Airport outside Albuquerque.

Liquid natural gas takes up a lot of space.

But the proposed facility would freeze and turn the amount needed to fill a beach ball into an amount the size of a golf ball.

The company says if New Mexico were faced with another crisis, the facility could pump gas directly to customers.

But the proposed plant has a pricetag of $35 to $40 million.

New Mexico Gas says other extreme options, like a pipeline from Colorado would cost astronomically more.

But New Mexico Gas says the project is on hold after the New Mexico Attorney General raised concerns about paying for the plant by raising customer rates.

Jaquez says a slightly higher rate doesn't seem half bad after what she went through.

"If we have to pay a little more money, we have to do that," she said.

New Mexico Gas says it has no other viable options for preventing another crisis.

The company could move forward with the project without the Attorney General's blessing, but that could stall the project down the road.

The AG's office on Friday tells KOB they can't comment on their concerns about the proposal until consulting with counsel.

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