FORT SMITH, Ark. — Due to natural gas supply constraints driven by an unprecedented weather event throughout the Midwest, Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corporation (AOG) is curtailing industrial and commercial customers, except for those that provide human needs, like hospitals and assisted living facilities.
According to the City of Fort Smith, Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corp. (AOG) is experiencing cuts to its gas supply from upstream pipelines on extremely short notice, causing the company to cut gas to some customers.
The upstream providers indicate that the gas supply will be decreased by 33% and AOG may be forced to curtail delivery to their geographic service area to maintain system delivery to the larger segment of customers.
Some Fort Smith businesses are currently being affected, including having their gas supplies shut off with very little notice. The number of businesses has not been specified at this time.
The company is also urging customers to turn their thermostats down before bed tonight and limit their gas usage between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. Wednesday (Feb. 17) morning.
AOG has shut down its CNG stations in the Fort Smith area.
The owner of River City Bistro, Bruce Spinas, says they received a notice from AOG that natural gas would be shut off to his business moments before it happened.
"From what we understand it can be as long as Friday before they can give us our gas back," Spinas said.
Spinas says it may be a small price to pay to keep a natural gas supply going for others who may not be able to make it without it.
River City is already closed due to winter weather, but Spinas says this notice will likely keep their doors closed longer than expected. He says he's worried about his employees.
"It's been a tough week already with the weather. we're hoping this doesn't last too long so they can get back to work and make a living," Spinas said.
Fort Smith City Director Kevin Settle says city leaders are already discussing how this will affect businesses and how they can help support them.
"Most businesses will make it through this. We came together through the flooding, will come through the pandemic and we'll come through this issue," Settle said.
The company is asking all of its customers to conserve their energy usage over the next few days.
"I know a lot of businesses from big businesses to small single family owners are going to be affected will come to through this as one unit Fort Smith," Settle said.
Tips for conserving energy usage include:
- Keep your thermostat a few degrees lower than normal, as long as there are no health risks. Avoid turning your thermostat up too high, too fast.
- Reduce your thermostat to 60 degrees overnight and when you are away from home for more than a few hours.
- Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Clear space around your registers so warm air can flow freely.
- Close dampers on unused fireplaces and keep garage doors closed to prevent warm air from escaping. Insulate around window and doors to prevent air leaks and keep warm air inside.
- Soak up the sun by opening curtains on your south-facing windows during the day and let the sunlight heat your home. Then, close them at night to reduce the incoming cold from any drafty windows.
In addition to reduced energy usage, here are tips to stay safe at home:
- Never use an oven or a gas stovetop to heat your home.
- Protect natural gas meters. Natural gas meters are weather-proof; however, to ensure that the meter keeps working smoothly, remove snow and ice from natural gas meters with a broom or brush. Never kick or chip snow and ice away with a hard object.
- Minimize the risk of frozen pipes. In the event you lose heat or power, leave faucets running at a trickle, leave cabinet doors open, and close all doors and windows to keep heat inside.