Gas shortage hits UND

After pipeline explosion in Canada, students asked to conserve heat.

Grand Forks area residents not only had to deal with blizzard conditions over the weekend, but also a cold home following a major explosion of a natural gas pipeline in Canada.

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation by TransCanada Pipelines, which owns the pipeline. Nearly 4,000 Canadian residents have been without heat since the explosion happened on Jan. 25 at 1 a.m. near Otterburne, Man., according to reports.

Customers of Xcel Energy in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin were contacted by the company and asked to conserve their natural gas by turning the thermostat to 60 degrees. On Monday, residents were contacted and allowed to turn the heat up after pipelines had been inspected and natural gas was flowing again.

“The house was freezing,” said UND student Bailee Vaughn, who was affected by the explosion. “I wore a lot of layers.”

Vaughn was not able to leave her house to go somewhere warmer either because a blizzard was raging outside. On Sunday, a blizzard watch was in effect until 12 a.m. Monday and was predicted by the National Weather Service to be the worst one of the season with wind chills up to  minus 50 degrees and low visibility.

“It was not too bad,” said UND student Chelsie Johnson. “But it was cold in our bigger rooms.”

Johnson said she was contacted by her landlord about conserving natural gas and thought Xcel Energy handled the situation well.

Canadian residents were expected to have their heat back by Tuesday evening after crews worked to bypass the ruptured pipeline.

Ashley Marquis is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].