For Wisconsin customers
Vol 16 Issue 10
- Dig Safely
- Steps that could save your life
- Natural gas is safe
- Finding pipelines
- Be aware of privately owned fuel lines
- How natural gas reaches your home
- Free money: Beware of utility bill scams!
- Partnership is important
- Recognizing and responding to natural gas leaks
- Relocation of meters
- Cut the clutter with Paperless Billing
- Tame your hidden energy hogs
- Prevent fires in the laundry room
- Keeping Current - Signing up for low income heating assistance
- PowerHouse at your fingertips
- Keep your meter clear
Important Safety information
Reading this special safety edition of Alliant Energy News could save your life. The following are important messages and warnings you need to know to keep your home, business, family and coworkers safe when using natural gas and electricity.
For any natural gas or electrical emergency, call Alliant Energy at 1-800-ALLIANT (1-800-255-4268).
Para Solicitar una version en espanol de este folleto, llame at 1-800-257-3645 o visite alliantenergy.com/espanol.
The leading cause of accidents on the pipeline delivery system is from damage caused by homeowners and contractors who strike or dig into buried pipelines. Often, these incidents happen because no one called 811 before digging or excavating to have the underground pipes marked.
Natural gas pipelines aren’t the only buried utility lines. Many communities have buried electrical lines, which are just as dangerous if hit. Follow the same guidelines when digging near natural gas pipelines or electrical lines.
Steps that could save your life
1. Call 811 before you dig
811 is the national phone number that initiates the process of locating and marking the underground utility lines in your yard or at your job. Dial 811 at least two business days before you dig. To learn more, click here.
Call 811, or contact:
Wisconsin: Diggers Hotline, 1-800-242-8511
2. 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 locating service.
3. Respect the marks and dig with care
When you start digging, stay at least 24 inches away from the marked lines. Hand digging with extreme caution is required when digging within the 24-inch tolerance zone.
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. Contact Alliant Energy before back-filling your excavation. If gas is blowing, call 911.
Natural gas is safe
Alliant Energy is dedicated to keeping our employees, customers and communities safe through training, education and awareness. Stringent safety standards govern the exploration, production, transportation, distribution and use of natural gas. At Alliant Energy, we continuously seek out new technologies in pipeline design, construction, inspections and operations to make delivery of natural gas safe, cost-effective and secure.
You should know that natural gas is one of the safest fuels, and pipeline accidents are relatively rare. We’re committed to improving and maintaining that fine record.
Alliant Energy uses pipeline markers to indicate approximate, but not exact, locations of transmission pipelines. The markers provide a toll-free number (1-800-255-4268) to report problems. Transmission line markers are typically placed at public road crossings, fence lines and street intersections. In most cases, pipeline markers are not located on a natural gas distribution system inside urban service territories.
Visit the National Pipeline Mapping System to learn who operates transmission pipelines in your area.
Be aware of privately owned fuel lines
Both homes and businesses commonly have privately owned buried fuel lines. Sometimes these run to an unattached garage/building, barbeque grill, or pool. Because these lines are privately owned, you should know where they run.
Buried gas piping should be:
- Regularly checked for safety and inspected for leaks by a qualified technician
- Periodically inspected for corrosion if the piping is metallic
- Repaired if any unsafe condition is discovered, or the flow of gas should be shut off
Prior to digging; the piping should be located and marked. Digging performed near the pipe should be done by hand.
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 pipelines 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 and local distribution companies like Alliant Energy distribute the natural gas to customers. The underground pipelines within your community are called mains and are typically buried in or next to streets. Service lines, approximately a half inch to one inch in diameter, connect to the main and carry the gas to homes and businesses.
When 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.
Beware of utility bill scams!
Recently, a scam promised money from the federal government to pay utility bills. It definitely fell into the category of “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
To protect yourself from identity or bank account theft, it’s a good rule of thumb to never provide your personal information when contacted with these types of promises.
If you ever have a question about your account or a potential scam, please contact us at 1-800-ALLIANT (1-800-255-4268).
Partnership is important
At Alliant Energy we consider our emergency and public officials as a partner in our prevention efforts. That’s why we mail information regularly, participate in meetings with other pipeline companies and work with emergency responders to be prepared for any possible pipeline incident.
To learn more about our integrity management program or other natural gas pipeline safety topics, call 1-800-257-3645 or visit us online.
Recognizing and responding to natural gas leaks
Natural gas is colorless and odorless. Gas companies add an odorant to give gas its distinctive rotten egg odor so you can smell a leak immediately. If you suspect a gas leak call Alliant Energy at 1-800-ALLIANT (1-800-255-4268) immediately.
We will investigate a gas leak for free
Always use caution near a gas leak. The unintentional release of gas is dangerous to the public and could result in fires, explosions, injury, and death.
A gas leak or damaged pipeline is indicated by the following:
- 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
- Smell a rotten egg odor – if you don’t know the scent, contact Alliant Energy for a free scratch ‘n sniff card
If you suspect a gas leak
- Turn gas appliances all the way OFF
- Leave the area and keep others away until Alliant Energy allows you to return
- Contractors should turn-off and abandon equipment, but do not attempt to move machinery
- Call 1-800-ALLIANT (1-800-255-4268) from a remote location
- If you hear gas hissing or blowing, call 911
- Try to find or repair the leak
- Start an engine of any kind
- 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 also can ignite airborne gases).
- Attempt to extinguish a burning gas leak
Relocation of meters
To assure proper service, gas meters must be accessible. If you are planning to do work on your premises that will affect the location or accessibility of a gas meter or service line, please call Alliant Energy to arrange for us to evaluate your plans.
Cut the clutter with Paperless Billing
Stop searching through a stack of mail for your utility bill! Sign up for Paperless Billing. Each month we’ll send you an email when your bill is ready to view and pay online.
Cut the clutter! Visit us online for more information or to enroll.
Tame your hidden energy hogs
Is it your kids’ gaming system? Or maybe it’s that old deep freeze you have in the garage. Chances are, an energy hog is lurking somewhere in your house. These unassuming appliances or electronic devices use more electricity than you realize. Some even use electricity when you’re not actually using them – and they’re driving up your electricity bill every month.
Pinpoint your energy hogs today with a portable kilowatt meter. You can borrow one for free from your public library if your town is served by Alliant Energy. Simply plug the device in question into the meter, turn the device on and you can instantly see how much electricity (in kilowatts or watts) the device uses, and how much it costs to run. Each meter comes with an easy-to-follow instruction card that walks you through the simple testing process. Once you identify your home’s energy hogs, you can make educated decisions on usage and reduce your electricity costs.
Before you make a trip to your local library, call ahead to make sure the portable electric meter is available. If your library does not have one, ask them to contact Alliant Energy at 1-866-ALLIANT or email us. We’ll send one to your local library at no charge.
To get a general idea of how much it costs to operate common household appliances and electronics, use our online appliance calculator, or call 1-866-ALLIANT and request our free booklet Powering Your Plug-Ins.
Prevent fires in the laundry room
Cleaning the lint filter on your dryer will do more than just make it run more efficiently. A plugged up filter can actually start a fire. Be careful where you put the lint, if the trash can is too close to your water heater, or any other natural gas appliances, the lint could fall out and catch fire. Vapors from flammable liquids and fabric or lint need to be kept away from appliances with pilot lights. Store flammable liquids in approved containers, and do not use them indoors.
Signing up for low income heating assistance
If you’ve had trouble in the past managing your heating bill, now is the time to look into energy assistance programs.
The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) is a federally-funded initiative that helps low-income households with the costs of energy used for home heating. You may qualify for assistance in this program if your household income falls within a certain income range.
Applications are accepted on a first come first served basis at Wisconsin local energy assistance agencies from October 1, 2012 – May 15, 2013.
In addition you may check with your local energy assistance agency to see if you qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program. The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program increases the energy efficiency of homes occupied by low-income families to reduce their energy costs while safeguarding their health and safety
For more information on the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) and how to apply, please call 1-866-HEATWIS (1-866-432-8947), or visit homenergyplus.wi.gov to find your local energy assistance agency.
PowerHouse at your fingertips
Got a project on your to-do list that’s got you puzzled? PowerHouse is your do-it-yourself project authority. Every week, you can catch PowerHouse on the following Wisconsin TV stations:
WMTV, Channel 15 (NBC) Saturday at 5 p.m.
WTMJ, Channel 4 (NBC) Saturday at 10 a.m.
If you have an upcoming household project to tackle, you don’t have to wait until Saturday to get a little advice. Pete and Megan are always on hand, ready to show you the ropes via the online PowerHouse video library. These short, simple instructional videos show you how to complete a variety of projects and purchase energy-using products – all while keeping energy efficiency in mind. And they’re free to watch! Topics include: buying an energy-efficient house, shopping for a new TV, landscape lighting and much more.
Keep your meter clear
- 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. Use a broom to keep gas service equipment clear during the winter
- Vents for gas appliances must be cleared following a major snow or ice storm to enable proper venting and prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.
- 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.
For customer service, call 1-800-ALLIANT (1-800-255-4268).