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Speaking before the New Mexico House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Feb. 16, LANL scientist Loren Toole offered a technical overview of the”conceptual underpinnings” of New Mexico’s recent natural gas outage, an event that threw several thousand New Mexico households into a winter deep freeze for days.
Toole, a senior research and development engineer in the Global Security directorate, was called in to help piece together the patchwork of information that had come to the New Mexico legislators from the involved organizations, including El Paso Electric, El Paso Natural Gas, New Mexico Gas Company, LANL, New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, and other industry representatives. Serving as part of a panel that also included Toole, they came prepared to assist legislators specifically with questions on
• Why the electric grid occasionally fails to deliver service,
• Potential causes for initiating electric blackouts, and
• Potential impacts of electric blackouts on natural gas compressor stations.
With multiple factors driving the sudden shutdown of the heating source for so many people, it took a big-picture specialist such as Toole to connect the varied dots, such as how an electrical disruption in one state could have a ripple effect on liquid natural gas pipelines hundreds of miles away.
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