Xcel urges customers to turn down the heat after Canada pipeline blast

  • Article by: JENNIFER BJORHUS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 25, 2014 - 11:43 PM

Call to conserve comes as the state faces hazardous weather conditions.

Xcel Energy is asking its natural gas customers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin to cut back on gas use following the pipeline explosion that lit up the skies south of Winnipeg early Saturday.

Minnesota’s largest utility said its natural gas supplies “currently are adequate” but that it is still evaluating the situation.

“As a precaution and to maintain system stability, we are asking all natural gas customers to turn their thermostats down as far as possible — unless doing so would pose a danger to their health or safety — and to avoid running natural gas appliances,” said Kent Larson, Xcel Energy’s senior vice president for operations, in a statement. “We expect to know more by midday Sunday.”

It suggested a temperature of 60 degrees for homes, and asked businesses to conserve, too.

Larson said customers should consider using electric space heaters if possible but cautioned against overloading circuits.

Xcel, based in Minneapolis, said that the natural gas supplies most at risk from the rupture in Canada are those to Fargo and Grand Forks in North Dakota; East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Brainerd in Minnesota; and the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie areas in west central Wisconsin.

It said there is a “very remote possibility” that supplies to customers in the east Twin Cities metro area, including St. Paul, as well as other parts of Minnesota could also be affected.

Xcel also asked nearly 600 business customers in Minnesota and North Dakota, and 250 in Wisconsin and Michigan who are part of its “Interruptible Gas Rates” program to lower their natural gas usage starting at 9 p.m. Saturday. The utility has made such requests several times already this winter during cold spells, it said. The businesses get reduced year-round rates in exchange for participating in the program.

Xcel said it will be posting updates on its website, on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

 

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