Note: Liberty Utilities is asking Keene customers whose service hasn't been restored to call them. See more.
Liberty Utilities said it has restored gas service for 223 Keene customers as of Friday morning, with hopes of bringing gas back for most of the remaining customers affected by Friday night.
That number is lower than the company anticipated, according to spokesman John Shore. However, the company believes it’ll make “great progress today.”
“We have isolated our gas system into several sections so we have been able to reintroduce gas into parts of the system and start turning customers back on,” Shore said in an email.
He stressed that the 65 technicians working to repair the outage — which started Wednesday morning and has affected about 1,000 of Liberty’s 1,250 customers in the city — need access to people’s properties to turn on the meters and re-light appliances.
The outage occurred after a problem at the company’s Keene production facility, though the exact cause is still under investigation. The issue does not present any threat to the public, the company said.
The problem arose around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, the company said, and caused a drop in gas pressure. As of Thursday afternoon, Liberty Utilities had not determined the cause of the issue, but said it was being actively investigated.
By Wednesday night, operations at the Keene plant were “back to normal,” but the work to shut off affected meters was ongoing, according to an email from the company.
Most of the service on Main Street from Emerald to Appleton streets was restored shortly after, as well as on Water Street from Main to Carpenter streets, and Davis Street, company spokeswoman Emily Burnett said.
Liberty’s service area in Keene is mainly concentrated around downtown, including east of Main Street and between Washington and Court streets, Burnett said. Liberty also has a small portion of customers in West Keene.
The outage led several restaurants in the city to close or adapt their menus.
Luca Paris, owner of Luca’s Mediterranean Café in Central Square, offered a truncated lunch menu Wednesday, and then closed for dinner. That night, Paris said, he worked to refocus the menu to feature cold foods, such as tapas and ceviche.
But the gas issue will still hit the restaurant’s revenue hard. “It’s at least half, if not more, of what we usually do,” he said.
The Monadnock Food Co-op on Cypress Street is also working with a limited menu Thursday, according to General Manager Michael Faber.
Cold sandwiches — both prepackaged and made to order — are available, as well as salads and other grab-and-go deli items.
The outage isn’t affecting the co-op’s hours, though, Faber added.
“Being a food store, there’s just a lot of other things we’re doing here, but it has certainly impacted the things we have available and can offer shoppers,” he said.
21 Bar and Grill owners Beth and Matt Wood didn’t open Wednesday or Thursday because of the gas outage.
“Our hot water is gas so we won’t open unless it’s restored (due to hand washing and cleaning),” Beth Wood said in an email Thursday morning. She added that local restaurants have already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, so facing another roadblock is difficult.
“In our particular case, the Roxbury Street project has taken the entire summer and well into fall with major construction in front of our establishment to further hinder our individual ability to have a consistent flow of business,” she said. “Now add the fact that for an unknown reason, our gas is off and we are unable to open at all!”
The outage’s impact on takeout options in Keene — coupled with many people not being able to cook their own meals at home — boosted The Community Kitchen’s hot meals numbers Wednesday night, according to Executive Director Phoebe Bray.
She said the kitchen and pantry usually see about 80 people pick up meals each weeknight, but Wednesday night served more than 100.
“... Some of those must have been affected,” she said in an email.
The Mechanic Street kitchen offers its hot meals program Monday through Friday from 5 to 6:20 p.m. All are welcome.
Meanwhile, anyone who needs to shower can do so at the Keene Family YMCA, according to CEO Dan Smith. As of Thursday morning, he said the facility was mostly seeing members do so.
Liberty Utilities is posting updates and information about safety precautions at bit.ly/3vxZBcI.
This article has been updated with new information from Liberty Utilities.