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City of Altamont discusses natural gas supply concerns

ALTAMONT, Kan. – The City of Altamont updates residents on issues with the natural gas supply due to extreme cold weather.

The City of Altamont held a public meeting this evening, also streaming it live on Facebook. (City of Altamont Facebook, watch Video here).

According to Altamont Chief of Police Michael Shields, Southern Star cut the city’s gas supply at 7:00 a.m. this morning. “The City is pulling from our gas reserves to help offset this. We do not have information as to how we will be affected tomorrow,” states Shields. He’s urging residents to conserve both gas and electric and continue to prepare for gas supply loss, “Our reserves are limited and will not last forever.”

Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline issued the following statement,

“In oversimplified terms, this is a supply and demand issue within the natural gas supply market. The supply market is not only having unprecedented demand given the sustained cold weather, but also is suffering from freeze-offs at the production well heads, all of which exacerbates the supply/demand imbalance causing price spikes from sellers of natural gas.

However, Southern Star is solely a transporter of natural gas. To clarify, our company does not sell natural gas itself.  Unlike rates for natural gas supply which are set by the market, our rates for transportation and storage services are established and capped by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Southern star holds several transportation and storage contracts with companies like Kansas Municipal Gas Agency, which is the contract holder for the City of Altamont.”

Update From City following this evening’s meeting:

Public Update 02/16/2021 06:54PM
As most of you know, the extreme cold weather has created an unprecedented Energy emergency for the Midwest Region. This Energy Emergency has been a rippling effect of the high gas prices for municipalities and power companies. The Gas emergency for Altamont has been our main concern.
Today we have spent a large portion of time planning, educating, and collaborating to plan for a gas outage and the financial impact to follow this.
Here is what we have learned since last night’s meeting.
  1. Our supply has been cut by 25%. This means 75% of the gas supply is coming from what has been purchased and 25% is coming from our reserve. This is the forecast for tomorrow as well. It is important for us to stress that you MUST conserve gas now. We are using our reserves. Our reserves are limited and will not last forever. It is uncertain if gas supply will be available for Thursday. This is a fluid situation. So we have to play each day by ear as to whether we will be able to purchase gas supply for the next day. We will monitor the situation and be prepared for as many scenarios as possible.
  2. KMGA was able to purchase gas supply for tomorrow. The price for tomorrows supply is anticipated to be between $150.00 to $300.00 per MMbtu. Normal is $3.00. Due to the price, KMGA may be expected to put up cash advances and collateral. This goes back to the first item. KMGA may run into a situation where they are no longer allowed to purchase without cash advancement.
  3. The Electric Emergency and rolling blackouts are expected to stop tomorrow night. I must emphasize this is only if we continue to conserve as much as possible.
  4. KMGA has stated that they are now working on sending invoices out to the cities in the next few days. We are anticipating this to be at a price of $70 or higher per MMBtu. Normal is $3.00. This will be a huge financial bomb for the city and residents. We are trying everything we can to mitigate this and lessen the impact for the city and residents. However, KMGA has stated that they need payment as soon as possible to help their cash flow and continue to purchase gas for the cities.
Finally, the City has worked diligently with Red Cross, Labette County Emergency Management, USD 506, and surrounding communities to secure a contingency plan for Shelters. In the case of a gas supply loss:
  1. The Sirens will be sound
  2. Information will be broadcasted on the City Website, Facebook page, Code Red System, and School Message System.
  3. A mandatory evacuation of the City of Altamont will be in effect
  4. Emergency personnel will check each property
  5. The City Utility staff will follow the Gas Emergency Plan
  6. Transportation will be available to shelters.

To help us prepare for this scenario please:

  1. Inform the city of anyone using a wheel chair
  2. Inform the city of anyone that is Oxygen Dependent
  3. Inform the city of anyone that would need transportation
  4. Inform the city of anyone that would need a spot in the shelter
  5. Gather blankets, toiletries, and medications to bring with you
  6. Find a place to stay with relatives or friends out of town
  7. Insulate pipes, windows, doors, etc.
Information can be sent by email to cityoffice@altamontks.com or call (620) 784-5612. If you have a utility outage please call (620) 784-5582. The Health Department would assist with COVID positive residents and those waiting for COVID results.
Our main priorities are still:
  1. Conserve gas and electric usages
  2. Keep gas and electric services running without interruptions
  3. Mitigate the financial impact that this could have on the City and Residents
Continue to conserve energy by any of the following:
  • Any businesses that can shut down please do so.
  • Turn down the thermostat. 67 degrees or less. Stay warm not hot.
  • Wear layers when inside
  • Ensure all doors and window remain shut (including overhead doors)
  • Seal windows and doors.
  • Place blankets near drafty windows and doors
  • Close off unused rooms.
  • Close curtain and blinds
  • Take short showers. Do NOT run a bathtub full of water.
  • Shut down anything that is not a NECESSITY.
City Hall and Library will be closed until Friday to public to conserve electric and gas usage.
RV Lots at lake are available for free to Altamont Residents until Friday.
Trash pickup has tentatively been scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
The MOST Important message we want everyone to receive today is that you MUST and I stress MUST conserve your natural gas and electric usages as much as possible. We encourage you to reach out to your family and friends and encourage them to conserve as well.
This is a very serious situation and we appreciate you all acting accordingly. We will continue to work around the clock to manage this situation. We thank everyone who has done their part to cut down gas and electric usage. The City of Altamont greatly appreciates Labette County, USD 506, Red Cross, Surrounding communities, and all others who have worked tirelessly to provide and protect the community of Altamont.
Next update: tomorrow (02/17/2021) at 6:30PM

A Message from the Mayor (Feb. 15):

With the entire Midwest being hit with extremely cold weather, natural gas producers have been faced with various problems, including wellhead freeze-offs and increased demand by Customers. This is an unprecedented situation but anything you can do to help reduce electric and gas usages help. We have been informed that our supplier of natural gas has increased gas prices.

Gas prices over the last few days have gone up 100 times normal prices from $3.00 (THREE DOLLARS) to nearly $400.00 (FOUR-HUNDRED DOLLARS). A normal gas bill for the City of Altamont is around $20 THOUSAND. With those prices, the City could be looking at a gas bill of well over $500 THOUSAND.

We want you to know that this is not a City of Altamont Issue, nor a Kansas Issue. The entire Midwest region has asked Gas and Electric consumers to conserve as much as possible.

Our main priorities are:

  1. Conserve gas and electric usages
  2. Keep gas and electric services running without interruptions
  3. Mitigate the financial impact that this could have on the City and Residents

Yesterday evening, Governor Kelly made an Emergency Declaration due to this situation.

HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO TO CONSERVE ENERGY:

  • Any businesses that can shut down please do so.
  • Turn down the thermostat. 67 degrees or less. Stay warm, not hot.
  • Wear layers when inside
  • Ensure all doors and window remain shut (including overhead doors)
  • Seal windows and doors.
  • Place blankets near drafty windows and doors
  • Close off unused rooms.
  • Close curtain and blinds
  • Take short showers. Do NOT run a bathtub full of water.
  • Shut down anything that is not a NECESSITY.

PLEASE PREPARE FOR THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO OF GAS BEING CUT OFF BY SUPPLIERS DURING THIS SITUATION OR FUTURE:

  • Get space heaters
  • Find a place to stay
  • Insulate pipes, windows, doors, etc.

City Hall will be closed until Friday to the public to conserve electric and gas usage. RV Lots at the lake are available for free to Altamont Residents until Friday.

Trash pickup for tomorrow has been canceled.

The MOST Important message we want everyone to receive today is that you MUST and I stress MUST conserve your natural gas and electric usages as much as possible. We encourage you to reach out to your family and friends and encourage them to conserve as well.

We have support from the Federal Government, State Government, Labette County Emergency Management, USD 506, surrounding communities to include: Oswego, Parsons, Mound Valley, and more.

We have been in contact with Jake LaTurners office today and they are working on contacting the United States President’s Office to add as much awareness as possible to this situation. All our staff and City Council will continue to work hard to do everything possible to aid our residents.

We will get through this as a community and we are NOT alone. We THANK ALL OF YOU for taking this seriously and doing your part to lower gas and electric usage. We will pull together in this difficult time and truly show Altamont’s SMALL TOWN PRIDE!

If you have a utility outage please call (620) 784-5582.

Send a message to cityoffice@altamontks.com for shelter reservation and to notify of residences with Oxygen.

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