Clyde Gross, senior gas manager for Northwestern Energy, and says their natural gas demand jumped quickly when the wind chills started reaching the 20s and 30s below zero.
“We were delivering about 70,000 dekatherms of gas,” Gross says. “That was three times higher for a residential and small commercial load than it was in early December.”
The extreme cold caused trouble for some of the utility’s suppliers.
“We receive a lot of gas off of Northern Border Pipeline and they had a compressor station in North Dakota that had issues and had to restrict flow considerably which…we had to work some adjustments with supply,” Gross says. “There were lots of issues with Kansas Oklahoma with well heads freezing off.”
Equipment in some southern states simply isn’t built to withstand some of the current temperatures, he says.
Gross says they had staff assigned to carefully watch the system all weekend because they know how critical it is to keep the heat on.
“We talk in heating degree days which is the variance from 60 but we had an 89 and then yesterday we had an 86,” Gross says. “At those temperatures, if a house freezes off or something like that, I’d hate to say that I’m not sure two or three hours would keep somebody alive in those kind of temperatures, even in a home.”
Gross says despite the jump in usage, there’s more than enough gas available to meet demand.
Northwestern serves customers in Grand Island, Kearney and North Platte.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton