GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Consumers Energy is expecting to have natural gas restored to thousands of Barry County customers this weekend.
Crews began reconnecting customers on Friday to a temporary gas system put in place while a section of permanent pipe is replaced that runs under the Thornapple River.
Workers are going door to door to re-light pilot lights and check systems.
“Throughout the day and the weekend, we’ll be reconnecting everybody,” Brian Wheeler, Consumers Energy spokesperson, said.
Consumers said it became aware of the leak on Tuesday afternoon, however, it wasn’t impacting customers. The leak got worse mid-day on Wednesday. Customers to the east and west of the Thornapple River started noticing gas was diminishing, making it difficult to use a furnace or gas stove. As of Friday, about 4,500 customers were affected.
“They’ve been without natural gas through the day on Thursday and into today,” Wheeler said.
He explained that crews had to turn off the meters and the connections to the systems. Then they had to re-pressurize the systems before going door to door and relighting the pilot lights, which started Friday.
“We know that there are furnaces that are natural gas reliant. We will knock on your door, go inside your house — with permission of course — and then relight the furnaces and appliances to make sure you have safe, reliable natural gas going forward,” Wheeler said.
For anyone who is not home, a tag will be left on the door with information to schedule a time for Consumers to come back.
“For us, this is a top priority. When people are affected like this, we know it’s a hardship and we really do want to serve our community, so our job, our priority is to get natural gas back to everybody as fast as we can,” Wheeler said.
While the temporary line is in place, crews will return to work on boring a new permanent pipeline under the river to replace the damaged pipeline.
“When that process happens, we’re not expecting any significant impacts to customers at that point. It should be more of the same reliable service to everybody who needs us,” he said.
Wheeler said that Consumers will be evaluating the damaged pipeline to determine what caused the leak.
Consumers is working with its environmental safety team to monitor the situation. As of Friday, Wheeler said there has been no known impact on the water supply or water quality in the area.
“If we do receive any sort of indication of that, we will be sure to let the community know,” he said.
Customers like Michael Brown have working to stay warm in their neighborhood near Nashville.
“I bundled up,” Brown said. “Had to put a sweatshirt on and a hat on and stuff like that trying to keep warm.”
Jackie Reese, who lives a few houses down, says the sun and warmer temperatures have helped.
“Now our kitchen, where the thermostat is, it’s 66 because it’s from the windows right there,” Reese said.
Any customers affected by the natural gas leak who have questions can call Consumers’ general and billing support line at 800.477.5050.