Virginia Gov. Mills E. Godwin yesterday requested an emergency purchase allocation of 1.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas to sustain "human needs" in the state through March 31.
Meeting with President Jimmy Carter's chief energy adviser James R. Schlesinger in the White House, Godwin said he was asking the Federal Power Commission to provide the gas for purchase by the Commonwealth Natural Gas Corp. (CNG).
CNG serves the southeast quadrant of Virginia, which includes about one-third of the state's population, Godwin said. The Federal Power Commission has the responsibility for administering the emergency natural gas act that was approved last week by Congress and the President. One provision of the act allows the FPC to order an allocation of natural gas to a pipeline or distribution company for at a price agreed to by the seller and the purchaser.
The going price for natural gas ranges from $1.50 to about $4 per thousand cubic feet, according to Danny Boggs, assistant to emergency act administrator Richard Dunham, who is chairman of the FPC.
Godwin, talking briefly with reporters after his meeting at the White House, said that the gas he has requested would last through March 31, when the worst part of the cold season is expected to be over. He said that if the request if not granted, again." The state does not have enough natural gas supplies to heat "we'll have to come back and ask homes, hospitals and other "human needs" without the emergency purchase, he said.
In a related matter, Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel said at his weekly press conference that his emergency order to conserve fuel will remain in effect indefinitely. He also said he would like to meet with Godwin and Washington Mayor Walter E. Washington to discuss "long-range planning" after the present crisis ends. Godwin told reporters he would welcome such a meeting.
Godwin also said that the city of Danville, which has been especially hard hit by the cold and is not part of the CNG system, was included in the purchase order request.