Hundreds of Natural Gas Workers Assist in Colorado Wildfires
Natural disasters can be devastating, and gas utilities are always on high alert during times of need to keep customers, employees, and the public safe. The industry’s Mutual Assistance Program enables gas utilities to receive extra help when it’s needed most, and December’s wildfires in Colorado presented one of those times of need.
Mutual Assistance is Here to Help
During the New Year’s Eve holiday, Colorado state officials required Xcel Energy to shut off gas services to more than 13,000 customers when the wildfires presented an increased risk to the gas system. The Xcel team knew they would need additional help to respond in a timely manner and protect everyone affected.
That’s where the Mutual Assistance Program comes in. Xcel Energy submitted their request, and within 96 hours, hundreds of natural gas workers from 11 member companies in eight different states were on the ground in Colorado to lend their helping hands. Due to this tremendous response, the event required only regional mutual assistance, led by the Southern Gas Association, and did not escalate to a national level event. AGA offered support by working closely with our regional partners and assisting with federal government waivers to allow additional workers to act fast and begin working.
This quick action kept customers safe as Xcel Energy teams, supported by other companies through the program, made two separate visits to each of the 13,000 customers who were affected to turn off and restore gas once the crisis was over – a total of 26,000 house calls that wouldn’t have been accomplished without the extra support.
The Mutual Assistance Program is one of the many ways the industry comes together to support each other in times of need. After a disaster hits a region, customer needs may exceed the capacity of regional resources, so companies rely on others to provide extra support.
Incorporating the Mutual Assistance Program into a company’s emergency planning portfolio enhances advanced planning and strengthens response efforts in a time of extenuating circumstances.