Greg Abbott calls for investigation into Atmos Energy after Texas freeze
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asked the attorney general and the head of the state agency that regulates oil and gas drilling to investigate Atmos Energy, the state’s largest natural gas provider, for a failure to prepare for the cold temperatures that hit the state last week.
On Dec. 23, Dallas-based Atmos asked its 2 million customers in Texas to conserve gas use by turning down their thermostats, not using gas fireplaces and not using their washers, dryers and ovens during an unseasonably cold Christmas weekend.
The company reported low gas pressure in North and Central Texas cities that left some customers without heat.
“The gas line pressure is insufficient for most furnace heaters and as a result, it does not work,” a KXAN Austin viewer wrote to the station. “So while gas is on for stoves, it won’t work for pressure-sensitive oven heaters. Had no idea of the actual wait time but was on hold for over 70 minutes on the ATMOS emergency line with no answer.”
KXAN reported that the company tweeted that customer service lines were down for the holidays; that tweet has been deleted. Atmos could not immediately be reached for comment by the Tribune on Wednesday.
“Leading up to and during the winter event, Texas State agencies worked around the clock to mobilize resources and assist the utilities in any way possible,” Abbott wrote in a letter to Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick. “Atmos Energy never asked for help. Atmos’ behavior is unacceptable and concrete action must be taken…to ensure it does not happen again the next time winter weather sweeps our state.”
On Dec. 23, the Railroad Commission of Texas confirmed to The Texas Tribune that it was aware of Atmos’ “localized low pressure issues,” which they attributed to unusually high demand during the cooling temperatures, and said the call center for customers of the company was opened.
“Atmos Mid-Tex reported that there are no gas supply issues overall in the system at this time,” Andrew Keese, spokesman for the Railroad Commission, told the Tribune.
“Because we’ve just started the winter season, and because Atmos customers deserve to have reliable natural gas service throughout it winter, – wrote Abbott in his letter, – there is an urgency to have [the] the investigation was completed within a few weeks.”