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'The holidays are becoming a nightmare' | North Texas homeowners stuck in cold houses due to low gas pressure

Atmos Energy is not currently reporting any outages, but has asked customers to conserve during high demand.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Brothers Khurram and Amir Arien are inside, but they're both wearing coats. The electric fireplace is on, and the space heaters are plugged in. It's still not enough.

"It's not sufficient to heat up the whole house," Amir Arien said. "It's just barely getting by."

The brothers, who live next door to each other in their Southeast Arlington neighborhood, said a neighbor called them late Thursday night to ask if their stoves were low and if they had hot water.

"We check our water, we have no hot water. We check our heat, we have no hear," Khurram Arien said. 

They said their entire neighborhood is battling low gas pressure.

"All 29 houses in the whole community...they have small kids," Khurram Arien said. "It was devastating yesterday. We were running around making sure [Amir] could drain everyone’s water heaters."

The brother's were living in rental homes during the 2021 freeze, waiting for their current houses to be built. Then, they suffered when the grid failed. 

"The holidays are becoming a nightmare," Amir Arien said. "We had to live through the electric issues first. Now, we're having issues with gas. It's a nightmare that's happening to us. We can't even enjoy our holidays."

They said an Atmos crew member responded to the area late Thursday night and told them the issue wasn't equipment failure or a broken pip. 

"He’s pretty much saying supply and demand," Amir Arien said. "More people are using it. It’s going to be less pressure because a lot of people are using it and it’s not enough supply."

Atmos Energy is not currently reporting any outages, but has asked customers to conserve during high demand by not using large appliances, not using gas fireplaces and lower thermostats to 68 degrees.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates gas in the state, provided this statement: 

"The Railroad Commission is aware of some localized low-pressure issues due to extremely high demand in areas served by Atmos Energy, Mid-Tex Division. Atmos is working to increase the pressure in the system and to continue to work tickets for customers who experienced low-pressure issues. Atmos’ customer call center is open. Additional resources have been added to handle the call volumes and work customer tickets. Atmos Mid-Tex reported there is no gas supply issues overall in the system at this time. The Commission remains in close communication with Atmos and will provide updates as we get them."

Atmos Energy tweeted that it is experiencing high call volume and that customers may experience long wait times. 

The Arien brothers said they have had to wait hours. They were told that the main cause of the issue in their neighborhood is there is only one gas line that runs through it, when there should be two. They were told potential solutions are in the works but could take years. 

"Any time it becomes below freezing, we’re not going to have heat. We’re not going to have water…hot water," Khurram Arien said. 

Doug Lewin, president of Stoic Energy, said there hasn't been much information on the issue made available. 

“From everybody that I’ve talked to, Atmos has not said anything specific," Lewin said. "The railroad commission has not said anything specific. So, like so much with the gas system, we’re kind of flying blind.”

He said, unlike ERCOT, which started providing more transparency following the grid failure and provides real time updates on grid conditions, the Railroad Commission won't release an outage report until about three months from now. 

"There is not transparency on the gas side," Lewin said. 

The Arien brothers said they just want a timeline for gas pressure to return to normal. Amir Arien said they were told they would likely have to wait for temperatures to rise above freezing. 

“My kids are upstairs also. They’re cold. It’s a very bad situation," he said. 

Atmos Energy has not responded to WFAA's request to provide the number of customers impacted by low gas pressure or answer specific questions about responding crews. 

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