Private Bidder Says It Could Speed Repair of PGW’s Leaky Pipes

At current rate, PGW will replace leaky gas mains in 70 years. UIL Holdings says it can finish in half the time.

We told you last week that Philadelphia has some of the oldest, leakiest natural gas infrastructure in the nation. At its current rate of replacement, PGW says it could afford finish upgrading those old gas mains in … 70 years. The private company that is bidding to buy PGW, however, says it can do better.

StateImpact reports:

The city recently announced a deal to sell PGW to Connecticut-based UIL Holdings Corp. for $1.86 billion.

At the current rate of 25 miles per year, replacing Philadelphia’s old pipes will take at least 70 years. UIL spokesman Michael West says the company can get it done in half the time.

“We can make the case to our investors why this is important and if we establish a rate base, those costs will be spread over a number of years,” West said. “We can get access to capital to make investments in a different fashion than a municipal utility could and therefore, be able to expedite the process.”

Of course, that sounds less like a promise and more like a description of how it could work. City officials might want to extract it as a promise before finalizing any sale.