9OYS WTK: SW Gas faces questions from outraged customers
Since a major gas outage last Thursday, 9 On Your Side has been flooded with calls and e-mails from people left in the cold. 9 On Your Side took those concerns to Southwest Gas.
Reporter: Ileana Diaz
Web Producer: Laura Rios
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Last week's cold snap left 14,600 homes and businesses with no heat or hot water. It was the biggest outage ever for Southwest Gas.
"It was not just cold here, but it was cold everywhere," said Southwest Gas Spokesperson Libby Howell. "The interstate transporter that brings gas into this area was absolutely slammed. Their system was being drained from all directions."
Howell said certain neighborhoods started losing gas Thursday, before Southwest Gas actually turned it off. "We were watching pressure getting lower and lower," said Howell. "We were very concerned. We started getting out of gas calls from customers, so in that sense, the areas chose themselves."
Howell told 9 On Your Side it made sense to cut off affected areas. She believes the company handled the situation the best they could. "We feel very confident that if we had been able to get the supplies of natural gas, our system would have accommodated it fine," she said.
When asked by 9 On Your Side's Ileana Diaz who was accountable for what happened, Howell said it was mother nature.
But that answer wasn't good enough for some viewers. "I think it was a total lack of planning on their part and I just believe there's more to the story than what were being told," said Cheryl McCauley.
That answer may also not be good enough for state officials. The Arizona Corporation Commission plans to hold an open meeting with Southwest Gas and El Paso Natural Gas within the next few weeks to learn more about what caused the outages and what's being done to keep it from happening again.
As for how Southwest Gas can ensure that this kind of thing won't happen again, Howell replied, "This is a once in a 100 year event that doesn't happen very darn often."
Southwest Gas did not say whether they'll be compensating people for any expenses over the last couple of days, but they did admit they could have communicated better with customers. They also said they're examining how they respond to outages and issues, like making sure technicians can service customers in a more convenient manner.
Monday evening, the gas company wrapped up its final visits to affected customers; but for those customers who weren't home, it's now up to them to give Southwest Gas a call at 1-877-860-6020.