We Energies: Natural gas restrictions lifted after pipeline problem

We Energies on Saturday, Dec. 24 said customers no longer have to reduce their natural gas use after a pipeline experienced an equipment failure on Friday.

According to a news release, the amount of natural gas being delivered into Wisconsin is back to levels that should meet all customers’ needs. Therefore, We Energies no longer needs customers to reduce their natural gas use.

"The fear was customers could lose their heat," said Alison Trouy, We Energies spokesperson, "so We Energies made an unprecedented plea Friday night: For people to lower their thermostats to reduce natural gas use."

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One of We Energies' natural gas suppliers experienced a significant equipment failure with its interstate pipeline network in DeKalb County, Illinois. Two valves malfunctioned, one of which was fixed Friday night. The natural gas supplier, ONEOK, said crews were working on the second valve Friday night. 

"We’ve got analysts, experts in this who have been monitoring the demand and the supply levels all night long," said Trouy. "Once we got to the point where there were no issues – it’s a little bit warmer today, it’s a holiday – so there isn’t as much natural gas use."

We Energies

We Energies said the problem reduced the amount of fuel committed to the state by 30%. The utility asked people to turn down the thermostat to 60 to 62 degrees to prevent problems. In a news release, the utility said the move would allow customers to stay safe, warm and help avoid a significant natural gas outage.

The impacted pipeline was one of multiple sources We Energies uses to receive natural gas. On a typical day, an issue like what happened would not require customers to reduce their usage. However, with the extreme cold, We Energies said it was unable to receive additional natural gas from its other pipeline suppliers.

We Energies took numerous steps to reduce demand for natural gas, the release said, including drawing from its liquefied natural gas and propane storage facilities, and reducing natural gas to business customers who have agreed to special billing in these types of events.