Replacement/Upgrades Remain Priority For Gas Distribution Market

February 2013, Vol. 68 No. 2

The composition of service lines by material type is provided in Table 2, which reveals a similar percentage of services that are considered replacement candidates. State level data corresponding to Tables 1 and 2 as well as corresponding data for Canada are presented in Appendix A. (Available at www.gasfondation.org.)

Safety a priority
Today, LDCs are working closely with federal and state regulators to enhance the safety and efficiency of distribution networks. As cited in the report, implementation of the Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP) regulation required gas utility operators to establish better overall management of the risks that impact the reliability of gas distribution infrastructure.

Among the requirements is that LDCs must install excess flow valves (EFVs) when constructing a new or replacement service to a single-family residence or when the connection between a single-family service line and the main are replaced under most conditions. It also mandated that operators document a risk-based approach to distribution mains and service integrity management in a plan to be prepared by each operator by Aug. 2, 2011.

The DIMP requirements include the need to document system characteristics; identify, categorize and assess risks; employ risk-mitigation measures; and monitor the effectiveness of the program. The risk-management approach inherent in DIMP also recognizes that many factors, and not simply the age of pipe, must be considered when determining what measures, including replacement, are appropriate to maintain the safety, reliability and integrity of a distribution system. DIMP rules require pipeline operators to determine the fitness for service of pipeline infrastructure on an ongoing basis.

In April 4, 2011, in response to recent pipeline safety incidents, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced a Pipeline Safety Action Plan calling for pipeline operators, including LDCs, to accelerate their efforts to replace pipeline facilities and take other actions to enhance the integrity of network facilities.