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Natural gas outage chills customers in Pea Ridge

Warming station opened at school by Annette Beard | February 17, 2021 at 10:07 a.m.
Employees with Black Hills Energy connect natural gas to the Pea Ridge Middle School Tuesday to heat the gym. Mayor Jackie Crabtree, city officials and school officials are providing a warming station for area residents who need a warm place to stay during the natural gas outage.

Thousands of Black Hills Energy natural gas customers were without natural gas Tuesday in Pea Ridge.

Black Hills Energy responded to reports of no gas pressure from customers in Pea Ridge. After investigating, technicians determined that natural gas service had been temporarily interrupted for approximately 2,300 Black Hills Energy customers.

“The process of bringing customers back on to the system requires several steps,” said Chad Kinsley, vice president of operations Black Hills Energy Arkansas. “We must first make sure all gas meters are off, then purge the system so it’s ready for the reintroduction of the natural gas supply. Finally, our technicians will go door-to-door and relight each customer’s gas appliances.”

“We anticipate completing the meter turn-off process later tonight,” officials said. “Once the safety of the system has been confirmed, we’ll begin to relight customers.”

For updates on service restoration, customers can visit www.blackhillsenergy.com/pea-ridge.

During the purging process a small amount of gas will safely dissipate into the air, but there is a possibility that residents will detect a faint gas smell. Natural gas has a distinct odor, similar to a rotten egg, due to the addition of a chemical called Mercaptan. The process is safe and Black Hills Energy technicians will be present during the process.

Additional Black Hills Energy employees from across Arkansas and surrounding states are joining the effort to expedite restoration of service to Pea Ridge customers. In all, Black Hills Energy will have more than 80 technicians working to restore service to customers.

Black Hills Energy customers can assist in expediting the relighting efforts by clearing snow from and providing access to gas meters and restraining pets who may be on the premises. Additionally, it is required that someone over 18 years of age be present during the relighting process.

If a customer is not home when the Black Hills Energy technicians arrive, a door tag will be left with information on how to have service restored. Customers should not attempt to relight their appliances on their own.

For customers who may be out of the area and whose homes or commercial buildings are not open at this time, call the customer service center at 888-890-5554 to schedule a date and time to restore service.

Technicians will be prepared to safely restore service by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and asking covid-19 screening questions before entering homes and businesses. Technicians practice social distancing and closely follow all national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding covid-19, including wearing masks. Black Hills officials ask that customers also wear a mask while technicians are in their home.

City and school officials worked together to provide a “warming station” for Pea Ridge residents. It has been set up at 1391 Weston St. (Middle School) in Pea Ridge. Masks are required, per covid-19 regulations, according to Mayor Jackie Crabtree.

Restrictions, according to Police Lt. Michael Lisenbee, are similar to those with the safe room and include no pets allowed, bring blankets and small personal items, water, personal medications.

“If there’s a place you can stay outside Pea Ridge, please do,” Lisenbee said, adding that the shelter is available for those who have no place to go to be warm.

Transportation to the warming center will be provided. Those in need, may call Benton County Central Communications at 479-451-8220.

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