Washington Gas Files Next Phase of Accelerated Infrastructure Replacement Plan in District of Columbia to Enhance Safety and Reliability
Five-year proposal will continue benefits of PROJECTpipes program, drive ongoing system safety, dependability and affordability, lower impact on environment, and improve service
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As part of an ongoing dedication to deliver safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to its customers, Washington Gas today submitted the next phase of PROJECTpipes , its 40-year accelerated infrastructure replacement program in Washington, D.C., to the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (PSC). The filing’s proposed next steps are designed to continue to enhance safety, improve system reliability and deliver environmental benefits on the company’s distribution system that serves homes and businesses throughout Washington, D.C. using natural gas as a clean-burning energy source.
The broader PROJECTpipes initiative, approved by the PSC in 2014, is a comprehensive accelerated pipeline replacement program which has allowed Washington Gas, during the first phase, which ends in September 2019, to replace aging infrastructure across the District of Columbia over the last four years and recover associated costs through a PSC-approved billing surcharge.
As of September 30, 2018, the initial four years of Phase 1 of PROJECTpipes has been implemented at a total cost of $78.1 million, with approximately $110 million total investment expected by September 30, 2019. For 2018, the amount of PROJECTpipes surcharge for an average residential heating customer was approximately $25 annually, or $2.08 per month.
PROJECTpipes Phase 2 spans the next five years and enables Washington Gas to continue to proactively replace its aging natural gas distribution pipeline on an accelerated basis, while recovering associated costs through a surcharge billing mechanism previously approved by the PSC. The PSC will consider Phase 2 through a detailed public proceeding that will enable the community to comment and provide input on the plan.
“Safety has been at the center of everything we do at Washington Gas since our founding 170 years ago. PROJECTpipes continues our mission to provide safe and reliable gas service to our customers by improving our infrastructure,” said Adrian Chapman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Washington Gas. “Like all older metropolitan systems across the country, our pipeline system in Washington, D.C. is aging. This next phase of PROJECTpipes will expedite the replacement of older pipeline so we can continue to deliver affordable gas service in the years ahead.”
Since June 2014, highlights of PROJECTpipes include the replacement of approximately 13 miles of pipe and 3,000 service lines. In addition, Washington Gas reduced greenhouse gas released from its distribution system by an estimated cumulative reduction total of 5,674 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
PROJECTpipes Phase 2 proposes to replace approximately 22 miles of pipe and 8,274 service lines from October 1, 2019 to December 31, 2024. If approved by the PSC, Washington Gas will spend approximately $305.3 million over five years. For 2019, the amount of PROJECTpipes Phase 2 surcharge for an average residential heating customer is projected to be approximately $49 annually, or $4.08 per month.
Washington Gas will prioritize the selection and timing of replacing certain types of facilities within specific categories, based on their relative risk, construction efficiencies, and other factors using proven pipeline integrity evaluation and risk assessment tools.
“PROJECTpipes will modernize our infrastructure, making it safer and more reliable while meeting or exceeding high federal and local safety standards. Washington Gas is committed to doing all we can to minimize neighborhood disruptions caused by our construction,” added Chapman. “We also recognize the investment we are asking customers to make to help us improve our system. Fortunately, due to the substantial decrease in natural gas prices, customers actually pay less today for natural gas service than they did in 2007, even with the PROJECTpipes surcharge included in their bill.”
Washington Gas will follow the same strict guidelines, practices, regulations and policies that inform the company’s operations each and every day, including close collaboration with the DC Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) permitting processes. These processes require Washington Gas to adhere to restricted work hours and other considerations to keep disruptions to streets and traffic to a minimum. DDOT and Washington Gas will also work together to ensure scheduled replacement work and activities of other underground service providers are closely coordinated to further minimize disruptions. In addition, Washington Gas will continue to engage and inform the community of its planned activity through company outreach efforts, which include community briefings, distribution of informational material and in-person consultation.
Washington Gas has similar programs with regulatory commissions in Virginia under SAVE (Steps to Advance Virginia's Energy) and in Maryland through STRIDE (Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement).
Industry-wide programs to accelerate pipeline replacement are underway across the country and adopted by most jurisdictions. In fact, there are more than 41 states plus the District of Columbia that have innovative cost recovery mechanisms for accelerated infrastructure replacement. In 2011, a federal Call to Action was issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to pipeline regulatory agencies, policymakers and pipeline operators to reinforce the importance of investment in upgrading infrastructure, including aging pipelines, as an effective means to enforce public safety and mitigate potential risk in each state.
About WGL and Washington Gas
The WGL family of companies—Washington Gas, WGL Energy, WGL Midstream and Hampshire Gas—are now indirect, wholly-owned subsidiaries of AltaGas Ltd [TSX:ALA]. WGL is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is a leading source for clean, efficient and diverse energy solutions. With activities and assets across the U.S., WGL provides options for natural gas, electricity, green power and energy services, including generation, storage, transportation, distribution, supply and efficiency. Our calling as a company is to make energy surprisingly easy for our employees, our community and all our customers. Whether you are a homeowner or renter, small business or multinational corporation, state and local or federal agency, WGL is here to provide Energy Answers. Ask Us. For more information, visit us at wgl.com and @wglanswers.
WGL’s regulated natural gas utility, Washington Gas, provides safe, reliable natural gas service to more than 1.1 million customers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The company has been providing energy to residential, commercial and industrial customers for 170 years. Visit us at www.washingtongas.com and follow us on Twitter @washingtongas.