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Low temperatures help Questar set use record

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15 2013 2:16 p.m. MST

Matt Brigham and Daniel McArthur dig the snow from their car in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Unusually cold temperatures in Utah helped Questar Gas set a record for its largest natural gas delivery within a 24-hour period, Monday morning to Tuesday morning.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — As the mercury continues to regularly dip into the single digits and below, Utahns are cranking up the heat at record levels.

Questar Gas, the state’s largest natural gas producer, reported Tuesday that it provided record natural gas deliveries during the 24-hour period from 8 a.m. Monday to 8 a.m. Tuesday. More than 1.2 million decatherms of gas flowed through Questar Gas’ distribution system. The previous record was set in 2011 when more than 1.1 million decatherms were delivered during a 24-hour timeframe.

Last year, Questar natural gas usage never exceeded 1 million decatherms in any 24-hour period. This year, there have already been nine days where deliveries exceeded that threshold.

“Keeping our customers warm is our first priority,” said Craig Wagstaff, Questar Gas executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our customers rely on us most right now because natural gas is their primary fuel for heat.”

Delivering the necessary fuel requires rigorous management of natural gas pressures through more than 26,000 miles of buried pipelines to more than 930,000 homes and businesses, he added.

Despite the high demand, Questar officials say the current natural gas prices are as low as they have been in a decade.

“With such an abundant supply of American-produced natural gas, the nation is experiencing a huge oversupply that has resulted in lower prices,” said spokesman Darren Shepherd. “And prices are expected to remain fairly stable throughout the year.”

He added that customers should be reminded that natural gas is like any other commodity — in that prices can fluctuate with change in supply and demand.

“Higher gas usage means higher bills and we realize this can be particularly tough for customers on limited incomes,” Wagstaff said.

Federal assistance is available, he noted, through the Home Energy Assistance Target program. Customers with limited income can dial 211 for information about available assistance programs in Utah.

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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