Panhandle Eastern Customers Asked to Conserve Natural Gas

By Jeremy Coumbes on February 13, 2021 at 3:21pm

White Hall residents are being asked to lower their thermostats as bone-chilling temperatures are taking a toll on the natural gas supply.

The City of White Hall was informed early this morning by their natural gas supplier that suppliers are facing restrictions to natural gas supplies due to the extreme cold weather.

According to the announcement on the City of White Hall Facebook page, officials say “when the supply is reduced and in such a critical state, the City and [it’s] customers could be assessed penalties on top of the already increased costs of the gas for excessive use.”

Mayor of White Hall Brad Staats says the city is being asked to conserve natural gas to avoid possible penalties from the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company (PEPL).

Our residents are asked to conserve natural gas, just like when we have had a water shortage in the past. We are asking residents to turn down their thermostats one or two degrees, if everybody does that it will help conserve natural gas.

If we go above the usage we are supposed to, we can be fined by the natural gas companies. I’ve talked to my gas engineer and am getting advice from him, and that is what he’s telling us.”

Staats says White Hall has been told penalties on top of increased prices could be astronomical. He says the penalties would hit the city first, but would likely be spread all the way down to single-use customers as well.

White Hall has been asked to notify residents to turn their thermostats down to 69 degrees or below for this time period as well. Staats says the issue will have an impact on larger natural gas consumers over the next few days.

I ask that the main businesses and people that use natural gas to conserve. One of the number one in town is the school. We are trying to get ahold of them and see if maybe they will shut down a day or two this week because that would really help.

I talked to the Kroger store in White Hall and just told them to conserve. I know we can’t shut it down. We’ve been through enough pandemic stuff as it is.”

According to the announcement, White Hall has been asked to encourage all industrial-type businesses, large users, and schools to shut down and turn down their thermostats to the extent possible from Saturday (today) through Thursday morning to protect the entire gas system.

The Village of Divernon received the same notice this morning, asking customers to turn thermostats down to below 70 degrees. Both communities are fed by Panhandle Eastern, however, officials with the company that manages the supply say the issue is affecting multiple pipelines across the Midwest.

Skyrocketing prices for natural gas have over recent weeks, combined with record low temperatures stretching as far south as Texas are causing many suppliers to add further restrictions to customers out of fear of freeze offs causing a shortage in the supply.

Freeze offs occur when temperatures get so low that a natural gas well will not flow out of the ground and into the system.

Officials say any customer served by Panhandle Eastern in the WLDS / WEAI listening area should safely conserve their usage as much as possible through Thursday when temperatures across the area are forecast to begin to rise closer to the average for this time of year.