ATLANTA – Natural-gas customers across Georgia will soon pay more each month so that aging, plastic pipes get replaced to reduce leaks and improve safety.
The Georgia Public Service Commission that regulates Atlanta Gas Light Co. granted permission Tuesday for a $275 million replacement program which will boost customers’ monthly bills 48 cents for the balance of this year and next. In January, 2015, they’ll rise another 48 cents and jump a final 49 cents higher in 2016.
Although the retail sale of natural gas is unregulated, the competing companies deliver it through Atlanta Gas Light’s distribution network, adding on a pipeline charge to their bills. So, those competing gas marketers will add these new charges to the bills they send their customers.
The goal is to swap 756 miles of plastic pipes buried in the 1960s and ‘70s with new plastic that is more durable and leaks less.
“Our vintage-plastic replacement program will allow us to replace aging pipeline with newer materials that will make our natural-gas system even safer and more reliable,” said company President Bryan Batson.
According to the commission, there have been no injuries or loss of personal property due to any of the leaks. The company only uses plastic on low-pressure sections and relies on steel pipes for their high-pressure lines.
Members of the commission praised their decision as a step toward enhanced safety and reliability.
“While other states are now wrestling with how to implement costly solutions to replace aging infrastructure, Georgia’s vision and leadership means we are maintaining an up-to-date, safe and reliable natural-gas system at a reasonable cost to ratepayers,” said Commissioner Stan Wise.
The commissioners are requiring the company to file quarterly reports on costs and construction progress and to seek permission before replacing more than the 756 miles approved.