Gas Utility Figures to Spend More than $500M to Replace 300 Miles of Old Pipes

Tom Johnson | November 1, 2018 | Energy & Environment
Elizabethtown Gas proposes a big overhaul of its distribution system, parts of which are more than a century old

Credit: PSE&G
pseg workers gas mains
Elizabethtown Gas yesterday filed a proposal to spend $518 million over the next five years to replace more than 309 miles of gas mains and to make other investments in its system

The filing with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is the latest by utilities in the state, which have ramped up capital spending to modernize an aging gas distribution system at a time when gas prices have dropped considerably in the past decade, cushioning the impact of those expenditures on customers.

The proposed program includes replacing vintage cast-iron and bare steel mains and services as well as iron, copper and dated plastic mains, some of which are more than 100 years old, according to the utility.

“We are committed to providing our 292,000 customers with safe, reliable affordable natural gas service, and the modernization of our infrastructure reinforces that commitment,’’ said Brian MacLean, president of Elizabethtown, which was acquired by South Jersey Industries in a deal completed this past July.

Accommodating high-efficiency appliances

The investments also will upgrade low-pressure systems to elevated pressure, accommodating high-efficiency appliances and newer technologies such as natural gas generators as well as the installation of excess-flow valves on each service line, further reinforcing the safety of the utility’s system.

MacLean said the proposal enhances “our long-term system reliability and ensures that we safely meet our customers’ growing needs well into the future.” Customers will not be impacted by an immediate rate change, as a result of this program.

For the BPU, the filing piles more work on an agency facing an ever-increasing workload. It now has filings to invest in infrastructure upgrades under new rules designed to expedite investments in the power grids from Jersey Central Power & Light, Atlantic City Electric and Public Service Electric & Gas. Earlier this year, the BPU also approved a $1.9 billion plan to replace aging cast-iron gas pipelines for PSE&G.