After the I-Team revealed last week that utility companies are refusing to disclose lists of leak locations, a New York assemblywoman is drafting legislation that would force companies like Consolidated Edison and National Grid to share where natural gas is seeping out of their underground pipes.
Gas utilities are required to tell the state Public Service Commission the total number of unfixed leaks on their repair backlogs. But state regulators do not have geographic information indicating where each leak is.
“We need to reveal where theses leak prone pipes are, where the gas leaks are, and have that map available to our municipalities and the general public, so that we can all be more aware,” said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Scarsdale who chairs the Assembly Energy Committee.
After a series of requests from the I-Team, Con Edison agreed to voluntarily provide locations of the approximately 800 non-hazardous leaks on its repair backlog. There was no immediate timetable for when that might happen.
National Grid has indicated a willingness to discuss sharing approximately 500 leak locations with state regulators. The utility declined to share those locations with the I-Team, citing fears that a map showing exact locations of leaks could create unnecessary panic, or have the opposite effect of discouraging residents from making emergency calls when they smell gas.
“Making the data available, nobody is going to want to know that there’s a gas leak near anywhere they live or work. It will cause them to desire us to address those as well. It’s a matter of us making sure that our resources, which are valuable and dedicated to the safety of the public, are focused on the right prioritization.” said William Ackley, National Grid senior vice president of gas distribution-operations.
PSE&G declined to share any leak locations with the I-Team. The utility serves northern New Jersey customers and would not be covered under Paulin's draft New York legislation.
Both houses of the Massachusetts legislature recently approved a bill that would require utilities in that state to share locations of backlogged leaks.
Gas utility companies stress that backlogged leaks are generally non-hazardous. Often, such non-hazardous leaks can wait months or years to be repaired.
“Transparency is always a good thing. It puts you in advance of a problem” said Paulin.