Polar Vortex: Minnesota Utility Urges Customers to Lower Thermostats to Prevent Gas Shortage

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Lorie Shaull/Flickr
JOSHUA CAPLAN

Xcel Energy, the largest utility company in Minnesota, is urging customers to lower their thermostats to prevent natural gas shortages as a deadly arctic deep freeze enveloped the Midwest

In a Wednesday statement, Xcel spokesperson Matt Lindstrom said extremely cold weather is causing

“significant” strain on the utility giant’s natural gas system. The company is asking for residents in central Minnesota, including the areas of Princeton and Big Lake, to lower their thermostats below 60 degrees. It is unknown how many customers will be impacted by the possible shortages.

“We need those in Becker, Big Lake, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Princeton, and Isanti to reduce use of natural gas. Until further notice, you are urged to turn down your thermostat to 60 degrees or lower and avoid the use of other natural gas appliances including hot water,” Lindstrom said.

Xcel is suggesting customers use electric space heaters to heat their homes. Princeton residents experienced an interruption in its natural gas system on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. local time.

The company announced it has set up a command center at AmericInn in Princeton and will provide hotel rooms to customers in need.

Meanwhile, the bitterly cold conditions have triggered wide-spread closures of public schools and government building across the state. The Minnesota Senate has postponed all hearings for the day, citing public safety concerns.

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