Gov. Mills E. Godwin said today he is extending his emergency energy cutback order for another week because of critically short supplies of natural gas and fuel oil in the state.
The order, due to expire Sunday but extended by Godwin until Feb. 20, requires retail firms heating with natural or bottled gas, oil or kerosene to use only minimal fuel after 40 hours of operation a week.
The order also requires all buildings in the state, with the exception of homes and facilities that fall in the "human needs" category such as hospitals, to keep their thermostats no higher than 65 degrees during the day and 60 at night.
Godwin met with his energy advisers and members of the State Corporation Commission before deciding this morning to extend the order.
He also telephoned the Federal Power Commission, which has made no decision yet on Virginia's request for additional natural gas to boost dwindling supplies in the state.
Godwin and two SCC officials went to Washington Thursday to ask federal officials to allocate additional natural gas to Commonwealth Natural Gas Corp. to the city of Danville.
Despite balmy weather in Virginia in recent days, Godwin said, "Our supplies of natural gas have not eased sufficiently to life the order with respect to establishments heated with this fuel. Fuel oil supplies remain marginal, and delivery problems in many instances are critical.
"Under these circumstances, I am unwilling to take the risk of cold homes or crippled essential services across Virginia."
Under Godwin's order, businesses heated by gas or oil must turn their thermostats down after 40 hours a week to the lowest levels possible to prevent damage to buildings and equipment. This is generally about 40 degrees.
The governor's order does not apply to gas curtailments ordered by the SCC and some local governments.
Business in eastern and central Virginia whose gas is supplied by the CNG system may use only enough fuel to prevent damage to their buildings and equipment through the end of March.
The governor held out the hope that some modification of hir order might be made in a few days.
"If the additional supplies of natural gas we have requested of the Federal Energy Office are in fact delivered early next week, and if warm weather enables a further replacement of fuel oil inventories, I will consider further action at that time," he said.
"Let me emphasize that overall, natural gas and fuel oil supplies remain in critical balance and that continued conservation by every business and every citizen is essential for the rest of the winter heating season," Godwin added.
Godwin two weeks ago ordered all businesses to operate no more than 40 hours a week, then amended his order last week too exempt firms using electricity, coal or wood for heat and enable others to remain open longer hours with minimal use of fuel.