Published: Nov 16, 2010 5:38 PM EST
Updated: Nov 16, 2010 2:38 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - With the initial phases of restoration completed, TECO Peoples Gas crews and additional personnel are focused on the final phase of turning on gas for customers who lost service when a contractor damaged an eight-inch natural gas main, causing a major break in service to the Ft. Myers and Naples area November 11. The break resulted in a loss of natural gas service to about 6,000 residential and 1,200 commercial customers in Lee and Collier counties.

As reported last night, we were making good progress in restoring gas to customers throughout the Ft. Myers and Naples area, returning service to 920 commercial customers and 990 residential customers. Crews also visited 220 additional customers who were not on premises, so pilot lights could not be lit.

As they have over the past four days, crews began restoration efforts early this morning and expect to continue making good progress with a focus on residential customers. Having shut off and locked down the meters of 100 percent of our customers affected by last Thursday's natural gas main break, the company is focused today on restoring gas service to several neighborhoods:

· Pelican Preserve

· Gateway

· West Bay

· Bella Largo

· Miromar Lakes (East)

· Miromar Lakes (West)

· The Rookery

· Porto Romano at Miromar

· Estuary

· Grey Oaks

· Aviano

Peoples Gas crews must enter a customer's home or business to restore gas service and re-light pilot lights, so it is important to have someone at least 18 years of age available at their home or business to allow crews to enter and take the necessary steps for restoration.

"I would like to personally thank our customers in Lee County and Collier County for their patience while we work to safely restore their gas service," said Peoples Gas President Gordon Gillette, who talked to the media early Monday in Ft. Myers.

Restoration of a gas outage of this magnitude is labor-intensive. Unlike electricity, which can be restored to thousands of customers by repairing a single power line, natural gas requires several steps to safely restore service to thousands of customers, including having restoration personnel visit each customer's premise to safely turn on the gas and re-light pilots as seen in this diagram.

Safety is Peoples Gas' No. 1 priority.

While we work to restore service to our customers as quickly as possible, Peoples Gas asks that customers help keep themselves and the crews restoring service safe by not modifying their gas appliances or Peoples Gas equipment.

Customers should not turn off their gas supply at the main meter. Only emergency personnel or utility personnel should turn the valve on or off. A customer may turn off the gas for individual appliances at the appliance valve near each unit, but it is not necessary.

While we work safely, we also ask customers to be safe too. Peoples Gas and crews working on behalf of the company carry identification. Customers should ask to see it to help ensure their safety.

Peoples Gas is committed to keeping customers updated and is working to provide timely information about areas it will be working in tomorrow. Stay tuned to peoplesgas.com for the latest available information.