We Energies says gas supply concerns not likely to arise again, county official says it shouldn't have in the first place

NOW: We Energies says gas supply concerns not likely to arise again, county official says it shouldn’t have in the first place

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Many Milwaukeeans turned down their thermostats during the blistering cold last night at the request of We Energies.

Officials there say customers successfully averted possible outages here in Wisconsin, but some local officials say you shouldn't have to be cold for their failures.

We Energies asked customers to keep their thermostats in the low sixties last night because a natural gas pipeline down in Illinois that feeds into the We Energies system had a malfunction, limiting capacity.

While they gave the all-clear early this morning, one county official says it doesn't have to be this way.

"At one of those pipelines, one of our suppliers had a significant equipment failure. And as a result of that, we didn't get 30% of the fuel that we were counting on," said Alison Trouy, We Energies spokesperson.

We Energies officials say that's why they put out the request to customers to bundle up and turn down the thermostats, something they say many people did, and they're thankful for.

"Even people who just lowered their thermostat a little bit contributed, and we really appreciate that effort," said Trouy. "The good news is that has resolved, we are confident that we're going to be able to meet demand today."

Out at Milwaukee Public Market today, most people had heard about it, and many had turned down their thermostats themselves.

Atman Smith says while he was fine last night, not everyone is in a situation where you can just turn down a thermostat.

"[Not everyone has] the luxury, the finances to be able to, you know, put bigger windows, more insulated windows and you know, stuff like that," said Smith, "so I think it's dependent."

Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan Clancy says it's a situation people shouldn't have to face in the first place.

"So it looks to me like We Energies has a problem that it's expecting residents to bail them out of, and that problem is a failure to invest in the infrastructure that could stop this from happening in the first place," said Supervisor Ryan Clancy, Milwaukee County Supervisor District 4.

Clancy says if adequate natural gas is kept locally to begin with, this wouldn't be an issue, something he says a democratically controlled energy supplier could choose to do.

That's why he, along with the Power to The People MKE, are calling for article 197 of Wisconsin State law to be invoked -- municipal acquisition of utilities.

"They do not have a duty to provide power to the people, they have a duty to provide profits to their shareholders. And there is a mechanism you know, according to state law to reverse that and to have We Energies via municipally owned or co-op," said Clancy.

We Energies gave the all-clear at 6:30 a.m. this morning. They said they don't expect this to happen again.

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