N. Palm Beach gas outage may last until Monday

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

NORTH PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - TECO Peoples Gas officials say it may be Monday or later before everyone affected by the natural gas outage in northern Palm Beach County has their natural gas service restored.

According to TECO, some customers already have their natural gas back on, as of 2 p.m. Wednesday. TECO has come up with plan to restore natural gas to all the affected 10,500 customers, and they'll do this in 3 phases.

In the first phase, PGA National and Mirasol are being restored. Some residents in those communities have their natural gas back on as of Wednesday evening.

Next, they will restore natural gas for customers in the Phase 2 area, which includes several places in Palm Beach Gardens such as:

Ballen Isles
Bent Tree
Old Palm
Frenchman's Reserve
The Gardens Mall

Then, in Phase 3, the last area that will get natural gas turned back on consists of all remaining neighborhoods north of Donald Ross Road, including the Abacoa area. TECO may not get to everybody until Monday or later because they have to go inside each customer's home or business to re-light their pilot light on appliances such as hot water heaters and stoves.

TECO met with Palm Beach County officials Wednesday afternoon to update them. The cause of the natural gas outage, which occurred about 5 a.m. Tuesday, is under investigation. They say a drop in pressure occurred in the large Florida Gas Transmission pipeline that brings the natural gas from Texas to our area.

One TECO official says the drop in pressure may have been the result of a thunderstorm or lightning, or it might've been human error. "This is a rare event. Clearly, we want to learn what the cause was so we can take preventative action to make sure that it doesn't happen again," said Lance Horton, a TECO official.

TECO says it will be working nights and this weekend, sending its employees to each home and business that's affected, to go in and re-light their pilot lights. This will take on average about a half-hour per home.

If you're not home, they will leave a door hanger with a phone number you can call, so you can let them know when you'll be home so they can come back.

Meanwhile, TECO's president says it remains to be seen whether they will be able to reimburse businesses that lost money or had to close  due to the lack of natural gas. "We haven't determined that at this point. Obviously, this is an event that was out of our control. But we do want to hear from customers and get their information," said Gordon Gillette, TECO Peoples Gas president.

He said people can contact TECO at 877-832-6747.