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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Avista recognizes those who endured largest gas outage in company’s history

Heather Rosentrater, president and chief operations officer of Avista, discusses the energy company’s response to the Williams Pipeline rupture at a news conference at Avista’s service center in Pullman on November 10.  (James Hanlon/The Spokesman-Review)

It took an army of workers to restore service to customers impacted by last week’s natural gas outage on the Palouse that affected 36,750 customers.

More than 800 Avista employees and 300 mutual aid workers from eight utilities spanning eight states, and over 60 HVAC contract employees, pitched in to remedy the situation in less than a week working extended shifts, the company said in a news release.

A landowner dragging a plow through a field as he was installing a drainage pipe ruptured the natural gas pipeline on November 8, severing the source of heat for much of the Palouse.

The pipeline was owned and operated by Williams Pipeline, which is contracted by Avista to provide wholesale natural gas to customers in the Palouse and Lewiston/Clarkston Valley.

Avista employees then manually shut off the gas service at the meter for all the customers who suffered an outage. According to an Avista release, this effort took an estimated 3,000 work hours.

Immediately following the incident, the Williams Pipeline crew worked diligently to repair the pipeline. In the release, Avista praised the “dedication” of those crews, saying that the restoration process would have taken much longer without their efforts.

Crews repaired the pipeline late Nov. 9.

“There were no injuries, no fire, or explosion associated with the incident,” Williams Pipeline said in a statement. “An assessment and repair team was quickly mobilized to repair the damage to the pipeline, and as of (Nov. 9) the repairs have been successfully completed.”

Heather Rosentrater, president and chief operating officer of Avista, thanked the customers for their patience during the ordeal.

“Our heartfelt gratitude goes out for the unwavering patience and support shown by our valued customers,” she said. “The uplifting words of encouragement and thoughtful gestures, like offering coffee, snacks, and encouraging notes, provided our dedicated crews with the strength and motivation that helped us persevere during this challenging response effort.”

Currently, a few hundred customers are still without natural gas because they have not been available during initial Avista visits.

Avista urges residents and businesses who were not home during initial attempts to call them at 1-800-227-9187 at their earliest convenience.