America’s natural gas and power systems will be put to the test in the coming days as a winter storm expected to bring heavy snow, ice, floods and high winds.
The U.S. National Weather Service says a highly influential winter storm will continue to affect large parts of the country later this week and into the holiday weekend. The winter weather hazard spreads from coast to coast in the central and eastern United States, from border to border, and from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest.
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Karen Herbert, CEO of the American Gas Association, told Fox Business that “energy demand over the next few days will be at an all-time high in our nation’s history.” “This is a storm of consequences, not an isolated one. If you look at the storm… it will affect almost the entire population under 48.”
Temperatures in parts of the country have already plummeted on Thursday, and millions of people have already received some sort of winter weather advisory.
“As of Thursday afternoon, approximately 280 million people in the United States have received some form of winter weather warning or advisory,” the NWS said. The total includes approximately 150 million cold wind warnings or advisories, 114 million snowstorm warnings, 56 million winter storm warnings, and 500,000 ice storm warnings.
Systems will be stressed like never before, but Herbert said utilities have been gearing up for this all year.
“Demand is going to be unprecedented, and they’re going to try to manage that load demand very carefully,” she added.
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If something happens and the system falls apart, the utility companies work together to get the system back together.
“If something happens where you are in the northeast, a utility crew from another part of the country that has not experienced that type of outage may be deployed to assist our sister utilities.” she added.
Both natural gas and electric systems are under load, but households relying on electricity to heat their homes are at greater risk because the grid is above ground and exposed to cold, snow and high winds.
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Natural gas systems, on the other hand, are underground and “somewhat insulated from some of these consequences and can continue to provide much-needed heat at these unusually low temperatures,” she said. rice field.
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This means that these households can continue to heat their homes and cook for their families even if electricity is lost. This also means that water can be boiled even if the water system fails due to increased demand, not just frozen pipes, Harbert said.
According to Herbert, companies are also preemptively stockpiling natural gas so that they can supply “almost 50% more than usual on average days” during these difficult times. .
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To help the system as a whole, homes that rely on natural gas can turn down their thermostats ahead of time to reduce demand across the system, so there are no blackouts or brownouts, Harbert said.
If you are an all-electric customer and power is lost, and thus heat is lost, there are serious consequences.
But if that happens, Herbert said it’s important that consumers don’t heat their homes with ovens or bring generators into their homes. Instead, homeowners should turn on gas fireplaces if they have them, or start a fire with wood.
It’s also important to go to a warming center if it’s safe. Regardless, she said it’s always important for families to have a plan as to whether and when they should move out.
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