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Columbia Gas of Ohio prepares for historic demands on system

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Jan 6, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Columbia Gas of Ohio crews across Northwest Ohio are operating today, responding to emergency and priority calls during the Level 3 snow emergency. Crews across the region will be working to ensure safe, reliable natural gas delivery, and are preparing for historic demands on the Columbia Gas system.

Columbia Gas employees are working with ‘doubled up crews’ to ensure the safety of employees. The company also has added extra crews and shifts to ensure prompt response to address emergency situations that may arise. The company will be responding to emergency and essential calls around the clock. Customers experiencing any issues should call 1-800-344-4077.

However, with historic low temperatures anticipated across much of Ohio, Columbia Gas is also working to ensure ample supply of natural gas. Looking at forecasted temperatures and associated demand, the company does not foresee any issues meeting anticipated demand.

Columbia Gas set an all-time record for natural gas delivery on Jan. 18, 1994 when the average temperature was minus 14 degrees and Columbia delivered 2.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas. The company expects to approach that level this coming week.

Columbia Gas of Ohio is reminding customers of important safety tips during snowy and icy conditions. To avoid safety hazards associated with their natural gas delivery, customers should:

·   Keep natural gas meters clear of snow and ice to ensure they are visible at all times for maintenance by Columbia Gas, and if necessary emergency responders, and to ensure proper venting.

·   Remove snow from the meter with hands or a broom. Never use a shovel, or kick or hit the meter to break away snow or ice. If the meter is encased in ice, contact Columbia Gas for assistance.

·   Keep fresh air and exhaust vents for natural gas appliances free of snow, ice and debris to prevent equipment malfunction.

·   Use caution when removing snow from flat rooftops, especially in commercial and industrial buildings, as there may be heating and cooling equipment and electric or fuel lines that may not be visible under the snow.

·   As always, if customers smell natural gas at any time, they should leave the area and call Columbia Gas at 1-800-344-4077.

Natural gas prices remain at low levels, however many homeowners may be struggling to pay their home heating bills. Customers should contact Columbia Gas at 1-800-344-4077, at the first sign that they may have difficulty paying their home heating bills.  There are several payment plans and options available for customers.

Columbia Gas also offers several energy efficiency programs for all income levels. These programs provide for a home energy inspection or audit, and safety checks of natural gas appliances. The programs also provide additional incentives to implement recommendations made by the professional energy auditors. More information is available at www.columbiagasohio.com/ways-to-....

With the extreme cold, should a home utilize an alternative or secondary heating source, Columbia reminds families to be safe by using energy wisely, including:

· Keeping flammable items, including paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, fireplaces and stoves.

· Place portable space heaters on a hard, level, nonflammable surface. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. Look for a model that shuts off automatically if the space heater tips over. Do not use heating equipment to dry wet clothing.

· Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.

· Never leave portable heaters, wood burning stoves or fireplaces unattended. Turn them off before leaving or going to bed.

· Keep the fire in the fireplace by using a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

Columbia Gas of Ohio safely delivers clean and efficient natural gas to about 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties. With headquarters in Columbus, it is one of the seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) and is the largest natural gas utility in the state. NiSource companies deliver energy to approximately 3.8 million customers located within the high-demand energy corridor stretching from the Gulf Coast through the Midwest to New England. More information about Columbia Gas of Ohio is available at: ColumbiaGasOhio.com. Be sure to call 811 at least two business days before you dig. For information about natural gas safety and what to do if you suspect a gas leak, go to: www.safegasohio.org.

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