Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) is providing mutual aid to National Grid following a natural gas issue in Rhode Island that has impacted thousands of customers this week.

According to news reports, more than 7,000 National Grid natural gas customers were without service beginning on Monday, January 21st, due to a pressure issue between the company and their supplier. As a safety precaution, National Grid suspended gas service customers in Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth, RI on Monday.

“Mutual aid is a critical component in the utility industry, so we’re always ready to lend a hand whenever we are able to,” said Chris LaRose, Acting General Manager of NPU. “In addition to helping people in need, our employees gain important experience whenever we are able to assist another utility.”

On Wednesday, NPU sent 5 employees to Newport who worked on safety precautions throughout the day, confirming that the flow of natural gas had been shut off for homes and businesses. They returned to Norwich on Thursday night.

On Saturday, ten NPU employees – both Field Service Technicians and Underground Distribution personnel – will be back in Rhode Island to assist in the process of restoring natural gas service, which includes relighting appliances.

Due to the relatively short distance to Newport, in the event of any significant issues within the NPU service area over the weekend, the deployed workers would be back in Norwich within an hour.

The Mutual Aid response was organized by the Northeast Gas Association (NGA) a regional trade association that focuses on education and training and is based in Needham, MA.