CLINTON — Alliant Energy officials are asking Gateway-area residents to consider safety priorities when it comes to their gas meters in the midst of this snowfall-ridden winter.

Alliant Energy spokesman Justin Foss said Wednesday that crews have seen an increased number of home gas meters covered in snow or encased in ice this winter. He said that can pose a safety threat to those inside the homes they service.

According to Foss, the meter's regulator, which controls the pressure of the natural gas entering the homes, needs to remain clear of snow and ice to properly function.

"If (the regulator) gets blocked up in snow or ice, it can be hazardous," Foss said. "We've seen so much more snow this year that our crews are seeing this problem more and more. We see it every year, but not to this degree."

Foss said officials are asking residents to manually clear the meters of snow "carefully, with your hands or a soft broom." Residents are advised against using a shovel or using too much force when clearing away the snow, at the risk of damaging the meter.

However, if the meter is fully encased in ice, officials are asking residents to call 1-800-255-4268 to have a crew or representative take care of the issue, as it takes "a little more of a nuanced touch," Foss says.

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