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UPDATE: NATURAL GAS ISSUE
1-26-2014 By STAFF

FARGO- one of three natural gas pipelines that have been out of service since and expplosion 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, be 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 Fargo and Grand Forks in North Dakota; East Grand Forks, Moorhead, and Brainerd in Minnesota; and communities in west-central Wisconsin, including Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie area, 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 perpared should conditions change.

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

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