Energy Exchange

New State Laws Seek to Improve Transparency in Utility Leak Management

A new Massachusetts law requiring gas utilities to annually report the location and age of known gas leaks has, for the first time, enabled the mapping of gas leaks from natural gas distribution pageonemap-8843pipelines across the state. This effort parallels EDF’s methane mapping project, as part of which it is publishing maps of methane leaks from utility pipes in various U.S. cities, highlighting the scale of the problem and the need for thoughtful utility and regulatory responses.

The issue is multidimensional. Gas leaks have both environmental and economic consequences, in addition to public safety implications. Most states only require utilities to address leaks that pose a present or future public safety threat. Other leaks can and do continue unabated for years, wasting gas and imposing an undue economic burden on ratepayers. The environmental implications are also serious. Methane, which is the primary constituent of natural gas, is a greenhouse gas, 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. Read More »

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