A significant milestone in public safety has been achieved by Columbia Gas of Virginia with the elimination of the final segment of cast iron pipe from the company’s more than 5,000-mile underground natural gas pipeline infrastructure system.
The use of cast iron pipe was commonly installed across the country to deliver natural gas until it was replaced by other materials including steel and plastic. As part of a long-term pipeline modernization program, Columbia Gas identified the need to replace cast iron with modern pipe materials, and has worked over the past 25 years to improve public safety with these upgrades to its underground natural gas pipeline system.
“The elimination of cast iron pipe improves the safety and reliability of our natural gas system across Virginia,” said Phil Wilson, Vice President and General Manager of Operations for Columbia Gas of Virginia. “We have retired at least 150 miles of known cast iron in our underground natural gas pipeline system and want to thank the various communities, and the public, for their patience and cooperation as we have worked to modernize our system.”
“This is a significant public safety milestone for Columbia Gas and for the Virginia communities we have had privileged to serve since for nearly 170 years,” said Brent Archer, Columbia Gas of Virginia President. “Today, with the replacement of cast iron with modern pipeline materials, we have a safer, more reliable natural gas system which is a benefit to our residential, commercial and industrial customers across the Commonwealth.”
Columbia Gas will invest an additional $150 million over the next five years as part of the continuation of the company’s natural gas infrastructure modernization plan recently approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The extension was in accordance with the SAVE Act (Steps To Advance Virginia’s Energy Plan) which establishes a regulatory framework for Virginia’s natural gas utilities to invest in replacing older infrastructure.
The types of facilities targeted for replacement include older infrastructure constructed using bare steel and early vintage plastic pipe, as well as other materials that are nearing the end of their operational lives. The Plan also minimizes the financial impact on customers by phasing in the cost of the program over a multi-year period. The cost impact of the program on residential customers in 2016 is expected to be 94 cents per month.