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Xcel Energy reports conservation ban to be lifted later today

St. Croix Gas customers received good news Monday while Xcel Energy reported progress as both business dealt with the gas shortage. 

In an e-mail to multiple media outlets, Marti Piepgras from St. Croix Gas reported all customers are welcome to return their thermostats to their normal settings as "the pipeline outage in Canada is over". She thanked those who "heeded the call to conserve natural gas" for the benefit of customers in Eau Claire, Brainerd and northwestern Minnesota. 

Meanwhile, Xcel Energy saw progress Sunday night, but was not ready to lift the ban yet. 

Liz Wolf Green, Senior Communications Consultant, reported the following in an e-mail around 8:30 a.m.: 

"Our system was stable overnight. We can see that natural gas flows are increasing from TransCanada pipeline into our pipeline service provider, Viking Gas Transmission. If this progress continues as we projected late yesterday, we expect to lift the conservation request later today.  We want to see Viking stabilize and approach a more normal operation as well as ensure the stability of our system this morning. Then we believe we can handle an increase in demand on the system. We truly appreciate our customers’ continuing conservation efforts. We expect to provide an update later this morning."

On a local level, Lori Larson, Communications Specialist from Pierce Pepin reports "we have not had to ration our limit of tanks being filled." The company is also asking customers to conserve as much propane gas as possible. In addition, the Ellsworth Cenex is reporting no kerosene is available. 

On Sunday, Governor Scott Walker declared a State of Emergency in response to the propane shortage that is impacting Wisconsin in advance of the extremely dangerous temperatures expected to move across the state in the week ahead.  The declaration directs all state agencies to be on alert and to assist as needed.

 “The health and safety of our citizens is our number one priority, and this declaration gives us the necessary resources to protect the residents of Wisconsin,” Governor Walker said.  “Since last fall, we have taken action to help alleviate the impact the propane shortage is having on our state.  I will do everything I can within my power to help our friends and loved ones relying on propane to heat their homes or businesses during this challenging situation.”

 The supply shortage in the upper Midwest has caused delivery delays and reduced delivery amounts for propane customers in Wisconsin, as well as all Midwestern states.  The propane shortage has been caused by:

  • unusually cold winter temperatures
  • a major pipeline suppling propane to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa was temporarily closed for maintenance from November 28 – December 18
  • a wet fall increased propane demand for grain drying
 As many as 250,000 Wisconsin residents rely on propane to heat their homes and businesses, according to the release. Propane transport drivers will be allowed to log additional hours to transport more propane and a weigh limit relief order is now in place allowing for more propane to be carried in each trip.