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The $287 million gas pipeline no one needed?

A federal court ruled that Spire Inc.’s 65-mile pipeline might have never been necessary. Getting pipelines in the ground–and stalling electrification–are proving core to the gas industry’s survival, internal records show.

Don Heberer, owner of Rathbone Hardware in South St. Louis, says his customers were buying space heaters in the middle of August last year, after the utility company Spire warned that a winter storm could leave city residents without heat (Rebecca Rivas/Missouri Independent).

By Mario Ariza for Floodlight

Deep into Missouri’s feverish summer, a St. Louis hardware store owner found his customers clamoring for something surprising: Electric space heaters.

“The weather was warm and it was strange that people were worried about it,” said Don Heberer, owner of Rathbone Hardware. He estimates he sold about 20% more space heaters than normal for that time of year.

The reason? The local gas utility company was warning people that, come winter, they might not have heat.

Spire Inc — an investor-owned gas conglomerate — issued the warnings last year after a court ordered it to shut down its new 65-mile STL Pipeline. The court ruled that the company hadn’t proved to federal regulators that the customer-funded $287 million project was even needed.

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