In March 2015, for the first time, every utility in Massachusetts filed a report with the Department of Public Utilities on the location of the natural gas leaks in their territory.
Natural gas is sent to our homes and buildings primarily through pipes under the street. New England has some of the oldest infrastructure in the United States, including its natural gas pipes. As natural gas pipes age, the seams and material break down, and begin to leak natural gas
We have over 3,500 gas leaks in greater Boston. The leaks account for 10% of the state’s inventory of greenhouse gasses. The gas companies have known about these leaks for years and done little about them. All the lost gas is paid for by rate payers and not the gas company costing residents 90mln a year. The National Grid is incentivized to not fix the leaks. The leak on the corner of Park Drive and Beacon St in Boston was reported in 1985. It still has not been fixed.
Call your state representative and senator at 617-722-2000 and ask them to support these bills. If you don’t know your state rep or senator, just call the number above and follow the prompts.
Current state bills:
Repairing grade 3 leaks (HR2871) requires gas companies to check for and repair gas leaks whenever significant road work is being done. Currently only potentially explosive leaks must be repaired. According to the utilities’ own data, some of the non-explosive leaks in Boston date back to 1985. Fixing all leaks when the streets are open would prevent repeated digging up and repaving of roads, thus decreasing overall cost and disruption. The bill has 47 cosponsors.
Consumer protection bill (HR2870) stops the utility companies from passing the cost for the lost gas onto the consumers. Passage of this bill would create an incentive for utility companies to fix the leaks as quickly as possible, starting with the biggest leaks. When a similar bill was passed in Texas, 55% of the leaks were fixed within 3 years. This bill has 43 cosponsors (to see them, click on Miscellaneous).
The sponsorship for both is bipartisan and from both House and Senate. The sponsors of both bills are Rep. Lori Ehrlich and Sen. James Eldridge. Making these bills into law will strongly incentivize the utilities to fix the leaks in the least expensive, least disruptive way possible.