Natural Gas Leaks Cost Massachusetts Ratepayers $40 Million a Year, Severely Damage Environment

Nov 30th, 2012 | By Mark | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Leaks

NatGas Consulting

Natural gas leaking from an aging and increasingly compromised distribution infrastructure costs Massachusetts consumers nearly $40 million annually and significantly contributes to ongoing environmental destruction wrought by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to a new white paper issued recently the Conservation Law Foundation.

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From the CLF report:

Every day, thousands of methane leaks are actively releasing one of the most potent greenhouse gas emissions into the air in Massachusetts. Under our current regulations, we do not have an accurate accounting of these emissions, ratepayers cannot easily determine how much of their bill is going towards LAUF, and companies have no incentive to repair leaks unless they pose an immediate hazard. Massachusetts can and should take swift, direct ac- tion to change this state of affairs and bring fugitive emissions from distribution pipelines under control.

The CLF white paper recommends several policy changes to reduce the existing threat to public safety and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from leaking natural gas distribution pipelines. These include: establishing leak classification and repair timelines; limiting cost recovery for lost and unaccounted for gas; expanding targeted infrastructure replacement programs; changing service quality standards; and, enhancing monitoring and reporting requirements.

Methane leaks as mapped across the City of Boston by Boston University Professor Nathan Phillips. Phillips and his colleagues identified 3,356 leaks with methane concentrations exceeding up to 15 times the global background level.

“Every year, millions of tons of powerful global warming causing gases are lost through aging, leaky pipes – and yet there’s no incentive to fix them. Gas companies are allowed to – and do – pass the cost and risk onto Massachusetts customers,” Shanna Cleveland, CLF Staff Attorney and lead author on the whitepaper, said. “To put this in perspective, these losses are larger than the gains made by the state’s nation-leading gas efficiency programs, and the losses are passed on to customers at a cost of $38.8 million annually.”

You can read the entire CLF report here: CLF_fugitive_emissions_report

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One Comment to “Natural Gas Leaks Cost Massachusetts Ratepayers $40 Million a Year, Severely Damage Environment”

  1. Mike Holmstrom says:

    I see where there’s “issues” getting gas leaks fixed there:

    For third time, Marblehead’s Rep. Ehrlich files gas-leak bill
    Pushes for comprehensive regulation of gas companies

    “Our infrastructure is among the oldest in the nation, and Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of explosions, so it would be irresponsible to put this off any longer,” said Ehrlich. “There are over 20,000 known gas leaks across the Commonwealth, with over 3,400 in Boston alone. It seems like everyone has a story to share about a gas leak near their home or place of work. We can no longer count on the gas companies to self-regulate.”

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