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Energy company’s customers praised

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Even in the midst of another polar blast, they turned down their thermostats to 60 to conserve scarce natural gas.

Marti Piepgras of St. Croix Gas said those local efforts were appreciated and worked.

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“Their voluntary conservation benefited residents on Xcel’s pipelines in western Wisconsin and northern Minnesota on a very cold and windy day and night,” Piepgras said. “We estimate that our customers reduced gas demand by 5%. Considering the difficulty of getting the word out to people on a weekend, this is applaudable.”

A weekend gas pipeline explosion near Winnipeg, Canada, caused the temporary heating fuel crisis. 

On Saturday evening, Jan. 25, St. Croix Gas contacted the interruptible rate customers of the requirement to cease use or pay a penalty rate. The River Falls Area Hospital and the high school switched to alternate fuel and other businesses reduced use to a minimum.

On Sunday morning, Jan. 26, St. Croix Gas learned of Xcel’s general request to reduce usage voluntarily, and began contacting large firm rate customers such as the other schools, industrial park businesses and Main Street businesses.

Many businesses and all of the schools responded. The UW-River Falls facilities department found ways to reduce natural gas usage on campus. Crystal Finishing in the city’s Industrial Park shut down its production line.

To reach residential customers, St. Croix Gas posted a request to conserve on its website and notified Twin Cities and local news outlets with a press release.

Some businesses that couldn’t be contacted by phone were instead reached in person or by leaving a door notice hanger.

Xcel has since reported that the outage has been repaired and customers may return thermostats to normal.

Said Piepgras: “The community spirit of businesses, residents, and schools who reduced their usage to a minimum is to be congratulated.”

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