On Thursday, February 3, the Teppco propane pipeline resumed full service in upstate New York, according to the state energy office. The propane began flowing to the terminus of the line at 7 a.m. yesterday, more than five months after a leak shut down 165 miles of pipe that carries the fuel to dealers and customers in the Northeast.
This completes the slow comeback of a crucial supply line, whose disruption had created costly problems in the heart of the heating season. And the pipe’s return should help relieve some of the pressure on the regional market during the most expensive winter for propane in history.
The pipeline, operated by TE Products Pipeline Company, or Teppco, sprang a leak at the end of August. The break shut down three supply points east of the town of Watkins Glen, N.Y., sending local retailers scrambling for more gas. For dealears farther east, that meant longer drives, and then long lines when they arrived at Watkins Glen. The added expense was passed on to customers in the state, who have seen retail prices increase 23-percent on average since October, according to federal data. The average increase around the country was 19-percent.
Teppco first estimated that the repairs on the pipeline would be complete by mid-autumn, but the timeline was pushed back several times. A company spokesman has said that unusually bad winter weather slowed the progress. In addition, the repairs had to pass hydrostatic testing and receive regulatory approval.
The pipeline made its comeback in stages, moving east. The terminal in Harford Mills was the first that returned to service in early January. The terminal in Oneonta was back last week. The last piece was the pipe running up to the railroad town of Selkirk, which came back online around breakfast time on Thursday.
It makes for a big propane day in the Northeast. So we want to leave the final word to Ace Frehley, lead guitarist for the band Kiss, when he said: “I’m back, back in the New York groove.”