Xcel asks some customers to cut natural gas usage
Xcel Energy is asking customers in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin to reduce their natural gas usage because of a pipeline rupture in Canada.
The Minneapolis-based company is asking residential customers who use natural gas to heat their homes to turn their thermostats down to 60 and avoid using natural gas appliances. Businesses that use natural gas also are asked to conserve. The specific areas identified by Xcel Energy for conservation were Brainerd, Moorhead and East Grand Forks.
The company said in a statement that natural gas supplies are “adequate” at present but the impact of the pipeline rupture is still being evaluated.
Xcel says it is contacting local officials to ensure they are prepared should conditions change.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported communities across the state are monitoring and preparing emergency plans in light of the pipeline rupture. DPS also reported it is in contact with Xcel Energy and first responders throughout the state.
The natural gas pipeline rupture and fire occurred early Saturday south of Winnipeg, Canada. The impacted lines provide the main supply of natural gas to more than 100,000 Xcel Energy customers in northwestern Minnesota, eastern North Dakota and western Wisconsin.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division (HSEM) is in contact with state, local and voluntary partners to coordinate any potential resource requests due to possible interruptions of natural gas service.
This includes coordination with North Dakota for any future needs. At this time, there are no plans to move resources or people between the two states.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is coordinating with North Dakota emergency management for sheltering of hospital and long term care residents should that be necessary. They are participating in planning conference calls and compiling bed counts. There is no need to move patients at this time.
The DPS Office of Pipeline Safety (MNOPS) is coordinating with Xcel Energy to make sure state, county and local responders have continuous updates about the situation and any possible interruptions of service.
The Red Cross (ARC) is coordinating with emergency management and local public health to identify possible public shelter locations. ARC staff are on stand-by for any potential needs.
The Minnesota State Fire Marshal (SFM) reminded residents to use caution when using alternative heating sources such as space heaters.
• Keep anything flammable — including pets and people — at least three feet away from heating equipment.
• Make sure portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off.
• Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Space heaters need constant watching. Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. Never place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
• Make sure all cords on electric heaters are in good shape and checked periodically for any frays or breaks in the insulation surrounding the wires.
• Check the cord and outlet occasionally for overheating; if it feels hot, discontinue use.
• Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
• Use a heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters will have the most up to date safety features; older space heaters may not meet the newer safety standards.