For Iowa and Minnesota customers
Vol 17, Issue 8
- 811 is a lifesaver
- How natural gas reaches your home
- Dedicated to your business
- Natural gas pipeline markers are meant to be seen
- Working together
- Is that safe?
- Detecting a gas leak
- Natural gas is safe
- Meter and pipeline accessibility
- Did you know?
- Is phantom energy haunting you?
811 is a lifesaver
The leading cause of accidents involving pipelines is from homeowners and contractors who don’t call 811 to have underground pipes located before they start digging or excavating.
Communities have many different buried utility lines, including natural gas pipelines, electrical lines, water lines, and cable/internet lines. Hand digging with caution is required when digging within 18-inches of these services.
- Call 811 before you dig
Customers should call 811, a toll-free number, to get any underground utility lines in your yard or at your business marked or located, before digging. Dial 811 at least three business days before you dig.
- Wait the required time for facilities to be marked
One Call Center personnel notify area utilities, such as Alliant Energy, to mark the approximate locations of buried gas or electric lines with high-visibility safety paint and/or flags. There is no charge for this service.
- Respect the marks and dig with care
When you start digging, stay at least 18 inches away from the marked lines. Hand digging with extreme caution is required when digging within the 18-inch tolerance zone.
If you hit a pipeline
Notify Alliant Energy if digging equipment or tools contact our underground pipelines or electric utilities. Minor damage, such as nicks, scratches, cuts, scrapes, dents, and gouges can result in pipeline failure, electric shock, or a major incident in the future if not properly assessed. If contact occurs, call Alliant Energy before back-filling your excavation. If gas is blowing or the scene is dangerous, evacuate the area and then call Alliant Energy and 911 from a safe location. Keep everyone away until the area is safe.
Iowa: Iowa One Call iowaonecall.com or 1-800-292-8989
Minnesota: Gopher State One Call gopherstateonecall.org or 1-800-252-1166
Illinois: JULIE illinois1call.com or 1-800-892-0123
For any natural gas or electrical emergency, call Alliant Energy at 1-800-ALLIANT (1-800-255-4268).
Para Solicitar una version en español de este folleto, llame al 1-800-257-3645 o visite alliantenergy.com/español.
How natural gas reaches your home
Natural gas is extracted from the earth and travels to your community through underground transmission pipelines. According to the National Transportation Safety Board the 2.5 million miles of pipeline in the U.S. are the safest method of transportation for natural gas.
Once the natural gas reaches your community it passes through a gate station, where the pipeline pressure is reduced. Then, a local distribution company, like Alliant Energy, distributes the natural gas to customers. The underground pipelines in your community are called “mains” and are typically buried in or next to streets. Service lines are approximately a half inch to one inch in diameter and connect to the main. These service lines then carry the gas to homes and businesses.
As the gas passes through a customer’s gas meter, it becomes the property of that customer. Customers are responsible for installing and maintaining the piping that natural gas flows through to reach appliances and equipment.
Dedicated to your business
Some business variables are beyond your control, but energy management is one area you can take charge of. At the Business Resource Center (BRC), we can help you analyze energy expenditures and determine where and how to trim your costs.
Put us to work for you!
We can answer your questions and provide information on:
- Billing and payment options
- Energy usage and rate plan analysis
- Basic utility service policies
- Energy safety tips
- Energy-related products and services, including power quality
The BRC is also available by calling 1-866-ALLIANT from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST Monday through Friday.
Natural gas pipeline markers are meant to be seen
Pipeline markers are used to indicate approximate locations of buried pipelines. The markers provide a toll-free number (1-800-255-4268) to report problems. Pipeline markers are typically placed at public road crossings, fence lines and street intersections. Visit the National Pipeline Mapping System to learn who operates transmission pipelines in your area.
In most cases, there are not pipeline markers for the distribution lines inside urban service territories. To identify where any type of pipeline is located call 811 before you dig.
We consider emergency responders and public officials as a partner in prevention. We share information, participate in meetings with other pipeline companies, and work with emergency responders to assist them in understanding the risks of natural gas and the best ways to prepare, prevent and react to a pipeline emergency.
Is that safe?
We take the guesswork out of those safety questions you may have asked yourself.
Question: Do I need to do anything to that gas line even though the valve is shut off?
Answer: Yes, cap the line. If you have a natural gas line in your building or home that you don’t use anymore, you must put a cap on the line. It is not safe to just close the valve. Someone could inadvertently open the valve, causing a dangerous leak of natural gas in the building. Alliant Energy recommends using a qualified contractor to cap the line.
Question: I’ve been using the same extension cord for years. Is that ok?
Answer: No. Extension cords are only good for temporary uses. These cords are not designed for continuous use and can overheat, wear thin, or break wires which can result in a fire or potentially shock someone.
Question: If everything that I plug in works, it must not be a safety issue. Right?
Answer: No. Plugging more than just a couple appliances into one outlet is unsafe. If the power in the outlet is too great it could trip the breaker. The wiring could also overheat and possibly catch fire.
Question: As long as I’m not touching a power line I’m safe. Is that true?
Answer: No. Doing any kind of work near power lines can be dangerous. Whether you’re trimming trees in your yard, using machinery at work, or driving farm equipment, you must stay at least 10 feet away from power lines. It is important to look up while you are working, to make sure you stay safe.
Detecting a gas leak
Natural gas is colorless and odorless. Gas companies add an odorant to it that smells like rotten eggs, so it’s distinctive and leaks can be detected. If you suspect a gas leak call Alliant Energy immediately. We will investigate the leak for free.
The unintentional release of gas is dangerous to you and the public, and could result in fires, explosions, injury or death. Always use extreme caution near a gas leak and recognize the possible hazards.
A gas leak or damaged pipeline may be detected if you:
- Smell a rotten egg odor
- Hear a hissing or whistling sound near a gas appliance, meter or pipeline
- See blowing dirt, bubbling water or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area
If you suspect a gas leak
- Make sure gas appliances are turned all the way OFF
- Leave the area and keep others away until Alliant Energy allows you to return
- Call 1-800-ALLIANT from a remote location
- If you hear gas hissing or blowing, call 911
- Contractors: turn-off and abandon equipment; do not attempt to move any machinery
- Try to find or repair the leak
- Strike matches or create a flame of any kind
- Use a telephone or cell phone (these can ignite gases or vapors)
- Turn on or off any light switches, garage door openers, or other electrical switches (these may also ignite airborne gases)
- Start an engine of any kind
- Attempt to extinguish a burning gas leak
- A qualified professional should check your gas appliances annually. Inspections keep gas appliances safe and efficient, and reduce risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Snow and ice can damage gas meters and pipes.
- Vents for gas appliances must be cleared following a major snow or ice storm to enable proper venting and prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.
- Carefully use a broom to keep gas service equipment clear during the winter.
Learn more about out Integrity Management program or other natural gas safety topics online or call 1-800-257-3645.
Natural gas is safe
Alliant Energy is dedicated to keeping our employees, customers, and communities safe by providing training and education on natural gas. Stringent safety standards govern the exploration, production, transportation, distribution, and use of natural gas. Alliant Energy continuously seeks out new technologies in pipeline design, construction, inspections, and operations to make delivery of natural gas safe, cost-effective, and secure. Natural gas is one of the safest fuels, and pipeline accidents are relatively rare. Alliant Energy continues to maintain and improve that record.
Meter and pipeline accessibility
To assure safe and reliable service, gas and electric meters must be accessible. In order to perform required safety inspections on our pipelines, we must have clear access to the pipeline right-of-way. The area on either side of our pipelines must be kept clear of trees, fences, buildings and other structures.
If you are planning to do work on your premises that will affect the accessibility or location of your meter or service line, please call Alliant Energy to arrange for us to evaluate your plans. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Did you know?
Approximately 88 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced in the U.S.
Is phantom energy haunting you?
There are real life vampires in your house. They are lurking in your computers, TVs, video game systems and other electronics that keep using energy even when they’re off.
The best way to fight these vampires is to unplug anything that isn’t being used, and for those things you can’t unplug use a smart strip – a power strip that cuts off electricity flow when items are not in use.
Smart power strips and surge protectors are NOT the same thing. Smart strips cost around $25-$30 and cut off the flow of electricity to appliances and electronics when they are not being used.This saves you money – and it’s more than you might think. Phantom or vampire energy loss – that’s what this kind of electricity waste is called – accounts for 5-10% of your energy bill (source: Science News magazine).
The electronics in your entertainment center and home office, like your cable/satellite box, DVD player, TV, and computer are great candidates for a smart power strip. These power strips also have several “always on” slots for those devices (like DVRs) that need to stay powered on to function properly. Curious which of your electronics are sucking your energy? Alliant Energy’s Powering Your Plug-Ins booklet tells you how much it costs to run many common household devices.
For customer service, call 1-800-ALLIANT (1-800-255-4268).