FORT SMITH, Ark. — Many Fort Smith businesses say they’ll have to close their doors after AOG asked them to reduce natural gas consumption to zero percent.
For many, it means no heat or way to prepare meals. Business owners across the area have already started receiving letters from AOG, and they're sharing them with us.
This is all in an effort to conserve energy and make sure emergency services are able to operate, but local business owners say the same rules aren’t expected from everyone.
AOG is telling customers they have to reduce natural gas consumption to zero percent by 6 p.m. Other businesses received similar letters Tuesday (Feb. 16).
Many Fort Smith businesses are facing challenges due to this. Randy Didier, the owner of Boondocks, says they can't operate if they do that, even if they reduce consumption.
"For them to say shut back 30%, I can't do that. Either we are on or we are off," Didier said.
They're also supposed to stay at zero consumption until told otherwise. A time frame given by AOG says maybe Friday (Feb. 19), but maybe not.
"I understand curtailment will only last for a few days now the class four, which is the manufacturing or industrial type customers, are the zero type customers. And then it trails on down per business categories," said AOG Public Affairs Manager, Stacie Smith.
Didier says he's seen other businesses still operating at full consumption and is wondering what's going on.
"We are a community here, we look after one another. If we need to shut down, we need to shut down, but it means everybody needs to shut down," Didier said.
AOG responded saying, "Essential business can be classified as grocery stores, gas stations, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. that could be the difference and we can not police that."
AOG is also asking residential customers to conserve energy by lowering their thermostats. Especially during peak times of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. They say the regional shortage of natural gas is due to the market. They say it was not sold to someone else.