BERLIN, Conn. - Yankee Gas Services Co. has assured its customers that there will be "sufficient natural gas supplies this winter to meet their needs."

"We plan carefully all year to ensure we have enough natural gas supplies available to us to meet our firm customers' needs through the winter, especially on those coldest days," said Marc Andrukiewicz, director of Gas Supply Management. The company's supply portfolio includes underground storage in four states and Canada, five propane peaking plants in Connecticut, and contracted supplies from western Canada.

The utility said its underground storage is full, at 8 billion cubic feet, and ready to be dispatched when needed. In addition, Yankee participates in the Northeast Gas Association's Gas Supply Task Force, which monitors gas supply for the region and helps coordinate supplies, when needed.

"The Gas Supply Task Force began holding weekly conference calls immediately after Hurricane Katrina to monitor the industry's recovery from the damage incurred from that storm," said Andrukiewicz. "The purpose has been to monitor the effect the hurricane damage had on supplies reaching the Northeast and the progress of repairs being made to important infrastructure in the Gulf region. What we are seeing is that the natural gas that was taken off-line due to the damage from Katrina is recovering and the expectation is that we'll be in good shape for the winter."

The company said it would increase its underground storage capacity to 12 billion cubic feet. Construction of a liquefied natural gas facility in Waterbury, scheduled to be completed in time for the 2007-08 heating season, is expected to add another 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas storage.

Additional Works: Boiler Plant Upgrades

Yankee Gas conducted an independent review of the Mohegan Sun gaming, shopping, and meeting complex's central boiler plant, to identify potential opportunities to make the complex more energy efficient for fuel and plant emissions management.

The study focused on Mohegan Sun's four 60,000-lb/hr watertube boilers, which provide steam for heat and hot water for a three million square-foot complex, including 1,200 hotel rooms, 29 dining amenities, a 10,000-seat arena, and a 100,000-square-foot convention space.

The study measured combustion efficiency and looked for energy- or cost-savings opportunities, plus ways to extend the boilers' life spans.

Gary Finnegan, Mohegan Sun's director and chief engineer, said the study "gave us an outside expert's view of our plant operations, including the status of our equipment and any operating problems we might have."

"Most of the issues [we] found were ones we already knew about and were in the process of having corrected, which made me feel good and reinforced my confidence in my plant personnel," Finnegan said. "Other findings were points we could pick up on and make use of for energy conservation."

According to the findings of the study, Mohegan Sun's operating efficiencies were very high. The boiler plant was considered "well run" and the equipment was "maintained in good operating order."

Even so, small changes to the plant's efficiencies could mean significant savings. A few recommendations, such as reducing excess air in the boilers' operating range to 20 percent at the high end of the operating load, could mean savings of about $20,000 per year; reducing the excess air to 10 percent at the high end of the operating load could bring these savings to about $40,000 per year.

Other recommendations included a burner tune-up on the four watertube boilers and the installation of flue gas temperature gauges on the operating boilers.

The survey was performed by Herbert Eckerlin, Ph.D., who was once a design engineer for Combustion Engineering in Connecticut and now is a professor at the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at North Carolina State University. Eckerlin, who has developed a national reputation as an energy efficiency expert, travels throughout the country providing energy reviews for various companies.

Publication date: 11/21/2005