Governor issues update on natural gas crisis

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By The Staff

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez released a statement Friday updating the status of the state’s natural gas crisis. She said that while the state is still dealing with natural gas shortages, a process is underway for restoring supplies and service to affected communities.
“Thanks to the generosity of our fellow New Mexicans, only 27 people were forced to stay in emergency shelters statewide last night, even though roughly 32,000 of us were without natural gas service,” Martinez said. “Earlier today, I spoke with officials at the New Mexico Gas Company, who told me natural gas should be restored in the communities of Alamogordo, La Luz, Tularosa, Red River, and Questa by the end of today.”
Officials also said that they are beginning the process of returning gas supplies to Bernalillo, Placitas, Taos and Española and will work through the weekend to restore services to those communities.
“In order to meet this goal, many volunteers from within New Mexico to as far away as Texas and even Michigan have offered to assist gas company technicians as we work to deliver natural gas to affected homes and businesses across the state,” Martinez said. “Thanks to their willingness to help, we will have more than 400 qualified people supplementing the gas company’s efforts to shut down meters, inspect and clear fuel lines, restore full pressure, and re-ignite pilot lights in the coming days. This group includes employees from utility companies outside of the state, as well as volunteers from various plumber and pipefitter unions and fire departments.”
Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith said Friday that because service to local gas customers was not interrupted during the recent shortage, his department was able to loan 10-12 technicians to help with the effort to relight gas pilots in other communities.
Any New Mexican who does not pass inspection when their natural gas meter is being turned back on can visit the Regulation and Licensing Department’s website to find a list of licensed plumbers and contractors who will assess any problems and contact the gas company, Martinez said.
“I have ordered that the cost of permits for work done by these contractors on affected homes be waived so this cost is not passed on to customers,” she said. “After an assessment from a licensed professional, the gas company will restore the flow of natural gas and require repairs to be made in subsequent days to bring these homes and businesses up to code.”
Emergency shelters remain open across the state and will continue to serve anyone who is dealing with unbearable temperatures in their homes. A list of these shelters can be found on the governor’s website.
Martinez also encourages everyone to continue checking the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s website for breaking updates and important information.
“I hope that all New Mexicans continue to stay safe and warm as we work as quickly as possible to resolve these challenges,” she said.