An update from Xcel on the natural gas service interruption:
Xcel Energy monitors natural gas supplies in wake
of Manitoba pipeline blast; thanks customers for conserving
MINNEAPOLIS – Xcel Energy officials today continued monitoring natural gas supplies following an early Saturday morning explosion that ruptured a TransCanada pipeline in Manitoba and potentially damaged two other pipelines, which were taken out of service to be examined.
The three lines provide the main supply of natural gas to more than 100,000 Xcel Energy customers in eastern North Dakota, northwestern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Xcel Energy on Saturday asked residential and business customers in those areas to conserve natural gas by turning their thermostats down to 60 and avoiding using natural gas appliances and renewed that request today.
“We want to thank our customers for the assistance they are providing by reducing the temperature in their homes,” said Kent Larson, Xcel Energy’s senior vice president for operations. “This has helped our system remain stable through the night and morning hours. We ask them to continue conserving natural gas until the situation is resolved.”
TransCanada Pipeline is currently assessing the system to determine which lines can be returned to service safely, Larson said.
Xcel Energy currently is receiving natural gas supply to serve customers in Fargo and Grand Forks in North Dakota; East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Brainerd in Minnesota; and communities in west-central Wisconsin, including the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie areas, from alternate routes from Michigan and from the Twin Cities area.
“The extreme cold weather is putting capacity pressure on those systems, too, so Xcel Energy is asking all customers – even those outside the communities whose supplies are most at risk – to conserve natural gas,” Larson said.
“We appreciate the support our customers are providing and recognize the discomfort it may be causing. We continue to urge those customers who can turn down their thermostats to continue to do so. We understand the elderly and others with special health concerns may not be able to accommodate the request. Supplemental heat such as electric space heaters can beneficial.”
Xcel Energy is contacting local officials to ensure they are prepared should conditions change.
Additionally, Xcel Energy implemented its Interruptible Gas Rates programs for business customers in all three states, as it has several times already this winter during extreme cold spells. Nearly 600 business customers in Minnesota and North Dakota and 250 in Wisconsin and Michigan who participate in the program were asked to reduce natural gas usage beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday. Customers in these programs have agreed to cut back on usage at the company’s request in exchange for reduced rates year-round.
Updates will be posted on Xcel Energy’s website and on Facebook and Twitter.