ASHLAND, Ore. — A widespread natural gas outage that began nearly a week ago is now at an end, utility company Avista said on Monday. At its final tally, the company said that more than 4,900 customers — including businesses and multi-family dwellings — were left without gas during the outage.
“We’re grateful for the patience of our customers during this multi-day outage and understand that this situation was challenging and frustrating. We appreciate the kindness you showed our crews as they went door-to-door to relight your natural gas service,” said Dennis Vermillion, President of Avista.
However, the company said that there were still about 130 customers left who had apparently been unavailable for relight on Avista's first pass. Since the relighting process required that crews come when a resident was able to give them access, some missed connections were bound to happen.
"The majority of these customers have made contact with Avista and either have crews dispatched to relight today or have coordinated with us for relight at a later date," the utility said.
According to Avista, crews from Washington and Idaho — as well as other utility companies from throughout the Pacific Northwest — came together to work on the big Ashland outage. Almost 100 people reportedly worked 16-hour days "to restore natural gas service as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible."
“We’re pleased that we were able to restore service to our customers without any safety incidents, and we acknowledge the role of our customers in accomplishing this," said Vermillion. "We’re also grateful for the support of regional utilities Northwest Natural and Cascade Natural Gas who provided critical resources and worked tirelessly alongside Avista crews to expedite restoration.”
Avista has said that it will continue its investigation into the circumstances of the outage to find potential "enhancements" that could prevent or streamline the process in the future. In previous statements and demonstrations, the company said that a partially-closed valve during the course of routine maintenance caused depressurization, leading the company to shut down the entire Ashland area as a precaution. That shutdown then required the manual relighting process for each individual customer.
Although Avista has now said that the outage affected more than 4,900 "customers," NewsWatch 12 is still working to determine how many individuals and businesses were truly impacted by the outage and how.
Avista said the following for any remaining customers who have yet to have their service restored:
"For those customers who we were unable to gain access to complete the relight of natural gas service and who have not yet contacted Avista, please call us at (800) 227-9187. These customers are our priority, and crews will be working until 11 p.m. tonight and throughout the coming days to complete relights."