Two School Districts Close Due to Natural Gas Shortage

By Benjamin Cox on February 16, 2021 at 3:33pm

A pair of West Central Illinois schools are going to be closed for the remainder of the week, but not for snow. Auburn Community Unit District #10 and North Greene Unit District #3 announced today that they would be closing for the remainder of the week due to cost of natural gas.

Auburn officials said in a recorded message that they are being advised to reduce the amount of natural gas heating they use for their buildings down to enough to keep their pipes from freezing. This led them to close for the remainder of the week.

In an all call to parents this afternoon, North Greene Superintendent Mark Scott told parents it would cost the North Greene District north of $100,000 a day to operate during the natural gas shortage.

The school districts are using these as emergency days built into the calendar, so no remote learning and no in-person learning will take place.

The closures are likely to continue after Panhandle Eastern Natural Gas customers were asked to conserve energy on Saturday.

Oil and natural gas prices rose sharply this week as the winter storm disrupted normal operations in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, considered the fracking capital of the United States. The price of natural gas jumped more than 5% Tuesday, according to stock market price indexes.

According to reports from national media outlets, Ford and Toyota have shuttered assembly plants throughout the Plains and the South due to the shortage of natural gas.

The giant storm has crippled states from the southwest to the upper northeast, putting strains on the national energy grid and natural gas infrastructure nationwide.