Interruptible Natural Gas

Compared to firm service — also known as uninterruptible service — the interruptible pricing model can save some businesses money. Having a trusted partner to help you manage interruptions can be invaluable. Below, we explain the difference between firm and interruptible natural gas, as well as how you can actually create a new revenue stream via profit-sharing, economic interruptions.

Firm vs. Interruptible Natural Gas

Typically, when a business relies on natural gas for heating or powering appliances and equipment, that gas is always available when it's needed. This option is the firm pricing model, in which users with firm gas are prioritized over others. While this model is great for businesses that require constant fuel, it can be challenging for utility and suppliers to manage demand while anticipating fluctuations in the market price.

Interruptible service is an arrangement where commercial customers with flexible energy needs agree to have their service interrupted or curtailed periodically. This setup benefits the gas utility or supplier by helping them manage gas supply during periods of high demand. It also benefits the customer by giving them access to a reduced distribution fee or the ability to play the market if prices skyrocket.

How Does Interruptible Gas Service Work?

Businesses with interruptible gas can have their service curtailed during periods of high demand. This ensures that high priority customers, like hospitals and residential homes, have enough gas to meet their needs. In many cases, businesses will not have their gas shut off entirely, but will instead be subject to additional charges if their usage exceeds their allocated amount. This can happen with a utility calls an Operational Flow Order, where they demand that you use less than your delivery or be subject to overage charges or penalties. 

During an interruption or operational flow order, businesses will often turn to an alternate form of fuel, like heating oil, if they need to stay running at full capacity — particularly if there's a risk of running into overage charges from the utility. Overage charges can be charged by the utility if your consumption exceeds your allowed deliveries during an interruption.  If you aren’t allowed to burn natural gas during an interruption from the utility, it can mean you get penalties from the utility if you do consume gas.

How Shipley Energy Can Help

If you have an interruptible rate class with the utility and they force you to interrupt, we’ll remotely monitor your tanks for backup fuel and send deliveries as needed. Businesses often worry about overage charges from the utility during forced interruptions. Instead of worrying about overage charges, you can de-risk this situation by fully switching to an alternative fuel and we’ll sell the gas you’re not using back into the market for you.

Typically, if it’s a period of high demand and utilities are calling interruptions, the market is willing to pay more for the gas you sell back, and you can even make money. Even if you are with a different natural gas supplier, we can still deliver your alternative fuel and our remote monitoring makes sure your tanks never run empty.

Who Can Benefit?

Most interruptible service customers use between 10,000 and 200,000 Mcf or Dths of natural gas per year. Interruptible service may make sense for your business if:

  • Your fuel needs or your business model is flexible enough to accommodate periodic curtailments
  • You can run your equipment or heat your facility using an alternative fuel
  • You have the infrastructure in place that permits alternative fuel use (for example, a boiler that can switch to heating oil

Can Interruptions Be Economic Opportunities For Your Business?

Absolutely!  While forced interruptions are mandatory usage curtailments from the utility during specific periods, Shipley Energy offers businesses an innovative way to profit from interruptions at opportune times. If your business can run on an alternative fuel, you can make money by choosing to interrupt your own supply and selling your natural gas back into the market at a higher price than you paid.

We’ll work with you to determine the price point and operational requirements that makes sense for when you can switch. We make it easy for you by proactively monitoring the market for opportunities and letting you know when your target price is met. We’ll email, call, or text you when the opportunity presents itself to see if you can take advantage of it. Don’t worry, we know you might not always be able to switch to an alternate fuel due to business or operational constraints, so we won’t schedule any alternative fuel deliveries without first having a conversation with you to see if it makes sense.

Explore Your Options With Shipley Energy

Whether or not you rely on us for natural gas, we can also get you connected with an alternate fuel source, such as diesel, propane or heating oil, for use during interruption or curtailment periods.  This can also allow you to take advantage of the economic benefits of interrupting.

We’re excited to provide this innovative service for you! To learn more about your options, get in touch using the form on our Contact page or the contact form below.