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Aging infrastructure? Where’s it a problem and what’s the fix?

Aging infrastructure? Where’s it a problem and what’s the fix?

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Aging infrastructure? Where’s it a problem and what’s the fix?

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  1. Aging infrastructure? Where’s it a problem and what’s the fix? New England Gas Workers Association Mark McDonald President

  2. ProblemHere? 3 Feet 10% LEL 10/23/2011 6:20 PM

  3. The Problem? • Treatment of “non-hazardous” gas leaks • A “numbness” of gas leaks • Drastically reduced staffing levels • Predicting the unpredictable • A “blind eye” approach to the solution

  4. Treatment of “Non-Hazardous” Leaks • They get worse over time. • Many leaks left unrepaired for decades! • Many costs associated with maintaining: • Annual re-checks • Repeat response to odor complaints • Hundreds of millions lost annually across U.S. • Greenhouse gas (GHG) damage to our environment

  5. GHG Facts • Methane is 21 times more potent than CO2 Carbon Dioxide • Fugitive methane takes 12 years to dissipate, versus between 50 and 200 years for CO2. • Methane has increased by 150 percent since the mid-1700s; while CO2 has risen by "just" 35 percent. • In 2009: Distribution pipeline leaks accounted for over 40 billion cubic feet in the United States! • Annual methane greenhouse gas emissions = 48.25 million passenger vehicles

  6. Background: Distribution Sector Methane Emissions (72 Bcf) Protected Steel Mains/Services 4 Bcf Bcf = billion cubic feet Other Sources 3 Bcf M&R Stations 18 Bcf Plastic Mains/Services 6 Bcf Cast Iron Mains 8 Bcf Regulator Stations 11 Bcf Source: EPA. Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 1990 – 2009. April, 2011. Available on the Web at: www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html.

  7. Are we getting “numb” to leaks? 22 Gas Leak Calls 8 Gas leak calls In the 4 years prior the month prior to the explosion. to the explosion.

  8. Staffing Levels • Significant reductions since deregulation (1998 Massachusetts) • Employees with decades of service: “We do much less preventative work than we used to!” • Less home/business visits due to: • technology • “un-bundling” services (exiting heating repair) • Sub-contracting work to less experienced workers • Chasing the “worst” leaks! • Less preventative leak repairs (Grade 3’s)

  9. More Customers &

  10. Less Workers

  11. Less leaks repaired…YETThe system is getting worse?

  12. Predicting the unpredictable Winter Patrols need to be mandated

  13. “What’s the fix?” RATES • Redesign rate recovery for “a call to action” “Low returns create incentives for (LDC’s) to avoid discretionary investment” • Regulators have the control for change! • “Decoupling” “Replacement Recovery” “Efficiency Programs” Massachusetts ratepayers spent $65 million on gas efficiency but saved less than ½ the amount of gas leaked out of the pipeline in (2010)!

  14. A “blind eye” approach to the solution “Replacement will solve all our problems” Maybe tomorrow’s solution, not today’s - alone! • Risks associated with rush to replace? • Incorrect installations • Collective failure for future generations • Locating difficulties • More plastic…more 3rd party hits – are we trading off hazards? It’s too late to make up for lost time on past replacement….

  15. THANK YOU! New England Gas Workers Association Mark McDonald 874 South St. Boston, MA, mark.mcdonald@negwa.com