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UPDATE: One of three pipelines returned to service, conservation still needed

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – One of three natural gas pipelines that have been out of service since an explosion in Manitoba early Saturday was being returned to service and is expected to reach full capacity by Monday afternoon, Xcel Energy officials said today.

“While this is good news, we still need customers to conserve natural gas,” said Kent Larson, Xcel Energy’s senior vice president for operations. “The system won’t be back to normal until the natural gas is delivered to our service territory, and demand remains high due to extremely cold temperatures.

“A big thanks to customers who have turned thermostats down to 60 and avoided using natural gas appliances since last night. We know your houses are uncomfortably cold, but we want you and your neighbors to know that your efforts have helped us maintain service to more than 100,000 customers. We ask you not to let up now.

“We are monitoring the situation carefully, working closely with our pipeline service providers and will let you know when the coast is clear and it’s safe to dial your thermostats up.”

The explosion early Saturday ruptured one pipeline and potentially damaged two others, which were taken out of service to be examined.

The three lines provide the main supply of natural gas to Xcel Energy customers in eastern North Dakota, northwestern and parts of central 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.

Xcel Energy continues to receive natural gas supply to serve customers in and around communities in west-central Wisconsin, including the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie areas; Fargo and Grand Forks in North Dakota; and East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Brainerd in Minnesota 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 continues to ask all customers – even those outside the communities whose supplies are most at risk – to conserve natural gas, Larson said.

Xcel Energy has contacted local, state and federal to ensure they are prepared should conditions change.

Updates will be posted on Xcel Energy’s website and on Facebook and Twitter.

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UPDATE:

Xcel Energy spokesperson Liz Wolf Green said there is no set timeline for the company's request for customers to conserve their natural gas. It continues to ask natural gas customers in western Wisconsin to turn their thermometers down to 60 degrees.

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PRESS RELEASE 11:45 a.m., Jan. 26, 2014: 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 western Wisconsin, eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. 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 west-central Wisconsin, including the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie areas; Fargo and Grand Forks in North Dakota; and East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Brainerd in Minnesota 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 be 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.

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UPDATE 12:00PM 1/26/2014: Xcel Energy is continuing to ask natural gas customers to conserve due to a pipeline rupture.

As of this morning Xcel is continuing to ask customers in Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire and St. Croix counties to turn down thermostats to 60 degrees.

A spokesperson for Xcel Energy says they are working to provide an update on the situation this afternoon.

Stay with WEAU 13 News for the very latest on this developing story.

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Xcel Energy is asking customers to conserve their natural gas due to a Canadian pipeline rupture that happened early Saturday morning.

Xcel says it wants natural gas customers to turn down their thermostats to 60 degrees until further notice. It says the natural gas supplies currently are adequate but the situation is still being evaluated. Supplies most at risk are those to Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin.

“We’re doing this for system stability to maintain natural gas to serve all of our customers. So that’s why we’re asking our customers to do that tonight as we continue to get updates on the natural gas line. This will help insure that stability overnight,” said Xcel Spokesperson Brian Elwood.

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PRESS RELEASE:

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – In the wake of a pipeline rupture in Canada early Saturday morning, Xcel Energy asked natural gas customers in Wisconsin, North Dakota and Minnesota to conserve.

“Our natural gas supplies currently are adequate, but the situation in the wake of the rupture in a pipeline just south of Winnipeg is still being evaluated,” said Kent Larson, Xcel Energy’s
senior vice president for operations.

Supplies most at risk are those to Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin; Fargo and Grand Forks in North Dakota; and East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Brainerd in Minnesota.

Xcel Energy is asking residential customers in those areas 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.

Xcel Energy is contacting local officials to ensure they are prepared should conditions change.

“Customers should consider using electric space heaters if possible; however, caution should be taken to avoid overloading circuits,” Larson said. “Also, please check on elderly or sick
relatives or neighbors to ensure they are safe.”

There is a very remote possibility that supplies for Xcel Energy’s customers in the east Twin Cities metro area, including St. Paul, and other parts of Minnesota also could be affected, Larson
said, although southern Minnesota also gets natural gas supplies from pipelines to the south.

“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. We expect to know more by mid-day Sunday.”

Additionally, Xcel Energy tonight 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.


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