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WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 26, 2014, 02:58 PM

UPDATE: Xcel continuing to ask gas customers to conserve fuel

FARGO – Efforts will be made to improve natural gas service to 100,000 Xcel Energy customers and others who have been asked to lower their thermostats to conserve fuel ahead of a brutal cold snap.

By: Patrick Springer, Forum News Service, INFORUM, WDAY

FARGO – Efforts will be made to improve natural gas service to 100,000 Xcel Energy customers and others who have been asked to lower their thermostats to conserve fuel ahead of a brutal cold snap.

Mark Nisbet, Xcel’s principal manager in North Dakota, on Sunday said pipeline crews are trying to determine whether they can bring one of three gas lines back into service following an explosion of one of the lines Saturday south of Winnipeg.

But if that isn’t possible, he said “drastic measures” might be necessary to allocate gas in the midst of expected subzero cold tonight and over the next few days.

Utility and pipeline representatives and others are discussing the situation, and more information will be available later this afternoon, Nisbet said.

One TransCanada pipeline ruptured and exploded, and two nearby pipelines also were shut down so a damage assessment can be made.

“One of them appears to be in better shape,” Nisbet said. “We’re working on that.”

Xcel natural gas customers have received automated phone calls asking them to turn their thermostats to 60 degrees to conserve fuel, unless doing so would pose a danger to their health or safety.

“We’ve gotten good response from the customers to help us do that,” but continued conservation will be required, Nisbet said.

The pipelines supply the main source of natural gas to more than 100,000 Xcel customers in eastern North Dakota, northwestern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service predicts the overnight low temperature tonight will be 21 below zero. Monday’s high is expected to be 14 below, with the low Monday night dropping to 25 below.

Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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