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NEWS RELEASE

Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
CONTACT:
Bruce Gordon  651-276-1561
bruce.gordon@state.mn.us
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2014
State Agencies Following Natural Gas Pipeline Rupture
Areas Across Minnesota Monitoring and Preparing

​ST. PAUL, Minn. – Communities across Minnesota are monitoring and preparing following a natural gas pipeline rupture in Canada. The Department of Public Safety is in contact with Xcel Energy and first responders throughout the state.

A natural gas pipeline rupture and fire occurred early this morning south of Winnipeg, Canada. The impacted lines provide the main supply of natural gas to more than 100,000 Xcel Energy customers in northwestern Minnesota, eastern North Dakota and western Wisconsin.

Xcel Energy has requested residents of East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Brainerd areas to reduce natural gas consumption and use alternative heating sources if available. Residents within the conservation request areas are being asked to lower their thermostats to 60 degrees and avoid using gas appliances.

State monitoring and coordinating

The Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division (HSEM) is in contact with state, local and voluntary partners to coordinate any potential resource requests due to possible interruptions of natural gas service.

This includes coordination with North Dakota for any future needs. At this time, there are no plans to move resources or people between the two states.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is coordinating with North Dakota emergency management for sheltering of hospital and long term care residents should that be necessary. They are participating in planning conference calls and compiling bed counts. There is no need to move patients at this time.

The DPS Office of Pipeline Safety (MNOPS) is coordinating with Xcel Energy to make sure state, county and local responders have continuous updates about the situation and any possible interruptions of service.

The Red Cross (ARC) is coordinating with emergency management and local public health to identify possible public shelter locations. ARC staff are on stand-by for any potential needs.

Local Reports

  • Clay County – Emergency management is coordinating with ARC. They have shelters with alternative heat sources in case they are needed. Otherwise they are monitoring.

Use Alternative Heat Sources Safely

  • The State Fire Marshal (SFM) reminds residents to use caution when using alternative heating sources such as space heaters.
  • Keep anything flammable -- including pets and people -- at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Make sure portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off. 
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. 
  • Space heaters need constant watching. Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. Never place a space heater close to any sleeping person. 
  • Make sure all cords on electric heaters are in good shape and checked periodically for any frays or breaks in the insulation surrounding the wires.
  • Check the cord and outlet occasionally for overheating; if it feels hot, discontinue use.
  • Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. 

Use a heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters will have the most up to date safety features; older space heaters may not meet the newer safety standards.

Low-Income Assistance

Consumers who need financial assistance to pay heating bills may find help through the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
The Department of Commerce administers LIHEAP in Minnesota, which helps low income households, especially those with seniors, children, veterans and people with disabilities with their heating bill. 
 
Money is still available for households that have not already applied.
 
Last week, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman took steps to increase LIHEAP Crisis payments from $500 to $1,000 for applicants heating their homes with propane and heating oil. The crisis payments could be available as early as next week.
 
 Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area; Minnesota has 32 local service providers. A list of local service providers and information on applying for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program is available by visiting the Energy Assistance section of the Division of Energy Resources website
 
Department of Commerce tips:

  • Plan ahead – don’t wait until you are almost out to order propane.
  • To save money and energy, conserve as much as possible by turning down the heat during the day if you are not at home as well as at night.
  • Air seal windows and close fireplace dampers to stop the heat from escaping your home.
     
     
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445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov