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Update: Xcel requests conservation after Canadian pipeline explosion

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A spectacular pipeline explosion in Canada is prompting Xcel Energy officials to ask all of its residential and commercial natural gas customers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin to cut back on use of the fuel by dialing their thermostats back to 60 degrees.

Although CenterPoint provides natural gas to much of Minnesota, t Star Tribune reports that Xcel is seeking conservation measures from everyone that it serves. Xcel supplies natural gas to 100,000 customers in Fargo, Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Brainerd and in the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie areas in west central Wisconsin. KFGO in Fargo reports the pipeline rupture is affecting supplies to the Viking Gas Transmission pipeline that also serves Great Plains Natural Gas customers in Crookston, Vergas, Pelican Rapids, Fergus Falls, Breckenridge and Wahpeton.

Xcel is getting natural gas from the Twin Cities area and Michigan to serve the areas in northwestern Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Xcel is reassuring customers that natural gas supplies “currently are adequate” but that the utility is evaluating the situation.

“As a precaution and to maintain system stability, we are asking all natural gas customers to turn their thermostats down as far as possible — unless doing so would pose a danger to their health or safety — and to avoid running natural gas appliances,” Kent Larson, Xcel Energy’s senior vice president for operations, said in a statement.

The Winnipeg Free Pres notes that police there won't launch a criminal investigation into the explosion, which happened in Otterburne, about 30 miles south of Winnipeg. Law enforcement officials say the blast was not suspicious.

Nearby resident Eveline Wiebe was jolted awake early Saturday morning by a giant fireball. "Wow, is the end of the world or something?" she said from her farmhouse near the site of the rupture. Officials said that the burning gas is non-toxic. Five houses close to the fire were evacuated early Sunday but those residents have now been allowed to return home.

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