Alagasco restores service

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 6, 2004

DEMOPOLIS — If anyone in this community was upset after losing natural gas on Thursday, the anger quickly turned to joy on Friday — and much sooner than anyone expected.

Early Thursday morning, nearly 1,100 Alagasco customers lost service because of a valve malfunction. Repairing the problem required the help of workers from all over the state, and at 3 p.m., an army of blue and white trucks canvassed Demopolis to begin the repair.

Soon after Alagasco shut off all customers’ gas, they ran a test of a new valve — installed Thursday after 1 p.m. — and began reactivating customers around 7 p.m. the same day.

“It looks like we started turning the gas back on around 7 p.m.,” said Alagasco spokeswoman Susan Delenne. “By 2 a.m. [on Friday] we had finished our first pass through the entire city.”

In other words, Alagasco workers had stopped at every home and business that lost service on Thursday and attempted to restore the service. Even in the early morning hours Friday, gas company workers were attempting to bring heat back to a frigid night.

“We kind of tapped on some doors if it was real late,” Delenne said. “If no one answered, we left a hanger on the door and we’re going back through today.”

As of 11 a.m. Friday, Delenne said Alagasco had restore service to about 900 of the 1,100 customers who lost service in the eastern half of the city. On Thursday afternoon, the company predicted the problem would be fixed by 5 p.m. on Friday.

Along with local workers, Delenne said support personnel from Anniston, Gadsden, Selma, Opelika, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham traveled to Demopolis to help fix the problem.

“Any time we have an outage like this, we usually bring people in from all over,” Delenne said.

If there are customers who still haven’t received service, the gas company said it’s OK to call the office and make them aware.

One thing customers won’t have to worry about is a spike in the gas bill this month after the extra work went into restoring the service.

“We’d never do that,” Delenne said. “Customers won’t see a thing in terms of overtime costs we had to pay. This was something that was wrong on our end.”

The spokeswoman said customers will only be charged for gas used at each residence. Then again, that likely will mean an increased bill — but not because of any infrastructure problems.

“Customers may be paying a little more this month, but that’s only because it’s been 30 degrees at night,” Delenne said.