Black Hills Energy has started its ongoing construction project of moving meters in Forest City.
The natural gas company will replace some service lines and relocate meters that are inside homes and businesses to outside the structure for easier access, according to Black Hills Energy Community Affairs Manager Lynn Porter.
“This allows for Black Hills personnel as well as our first responders quicker and safer access to the meter in the event of an emergency,” Porter said. “It’s kind of one of those prudent things to do.”
Some of the upgrades include renewing old field services with new PE pipes to prevent rusting, which may happen with the old steel pipes, Porter said.
The upgrades and meter relocations will happen at various addresses throughout the city, as there are some meters that are already inside, and Porter said Black Hills customers who will need their meter moved have already received a letter notifying them of the construction and will just need to schedule a time to have the work done.
“If they move the meter outside and work on the service line, gas will have to be shut off, so that’s why they want to work with them so someone’s at home so they can do what’s called their safety check and relight everything and make sure everything’s good to go,” Porter said.
Approximately 80 meters will need to be relocated in Forest City, and while work will be done for one customer at a time, Porter said the work can take anywhere around one to three hours to complete and at no cost to the customer.
“There is no cost to the customer,” Porter said. “We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do.”
Prior to any work being done, customers will be notified by the Black Hills contractor, Q3 Contracting, and their natural gas service should be restored in the same day, according to a press release by Black Hills Energy.
There will be excavation in the location where the gas service enters the residence and where the service line connects to the gas main, typically by the street or alley, and a restoration crew will follow the contractor to restore any excavated areas, the press release states.
John Thompson, Webster City unit supervisor of operations, said the upgrade will allow Black Hills Energy to meet its customers’ current and future energy needs as well as maintain its “industry-leading reliability far into the future.”
“This investment in the system represents Black Hills Energy’s ongoing commitment to our customers to provide safe, reliable natural gas service,” Thompson said.
Black Hills Energy has been working on moving the meters outside throughout their entire footprint over seven states for the past two years, according to Porter.
“Actually, the meter move-out project has been underway for the last two years in what we consider the Webster City District, and we completed all the move-outs in kind of the southern part, so down by like Story City, that area, and now we’re more up into the northern area,” she said.
Porter said the work in Forest City specifically, which will start after the work is done in Lake Mills, will take four to six weeks to complete.
“Safety is our first priority for our customers, and while the system that they have right now, it is completely safe, we want to be even more so, so that our personnel or first responders could get to the meter in the event of an emergency, so we’re always looking at the safest way that we serve our customers,” Porter said.
Grace Zaplatynsky covers Hancock and Winnebago counties. You can reach her at Grace.Zaplatynsky@GlobeGazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0534.
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