Enstar Natural Gas is asking Alaskans to clear snow from meters to help prevent damage that could lead to natural gas leaks following heavy snowfall in December, high winds and variable temperatures across Southcentral.
Enstar, which serves roughly 150,000 customers in Anchorage and the Cook Inlet region, said Friday that it has received “numerous calls for gas leaks due to the weight of snow damaging piping connected to natural gas meters.”
“We have had more than 70 calls since December 18th,” Enstar spokesperson Lindsay Hobson said in an email Friday.
Snow drifts created by strong winds put more weight on gas meters than typical snow accumulation, Enstar said in a statement. The problem is especially acute in Mat-Su, which was hammered by strong winds over Christmas weekend that led to extended power outages for some residents and roads obstructed by snow drifts.
Enstar described cases where heavy snow against gas meter piping “is pulling on gas lines feeding appliances inside homes and businesses and causing natural gas to leak.”
Keeping natural gas meters clear of ice and snow is especially important for first responders, who may need immediate access if there’s a fire or a gas leak — as was the case last week, when Enstar said it responded to a fire only to find that snow had completely blocked access to the meter on site.
The natural gas utility recommended that Alaskans keep snow piles away from gas meters; clear a path through the snow to ensure immediate access to meters; and use their hand or a tool like a broom — instead of a shovel — to carefully clear snow and ice from their meters.
Those who suspect a natural gas leak or other related emergency can call Enstar’s 24/7 emergency line at 1-844-SMELL-GAS (1-844-763-5542).