State Wants Leaky Philly Gas Pipes Fixed Faster

Under current plan, it will take 88 years to finish the job.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

In the wake of the collapse of the sale of Philadelphia Gas Works to a private bidder, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is pressuring the city to replace leaky gas pipes more quickly than planned.

It’s a long-range plan: Replacing century-old cast-iron pipes under the city’s streets is currently estimated to take another 88 years at the current pace. UIL Holdings, the private bidder, had promised to speed the pace. Now PUC is weighing in.

State Impact Pennsylvania reports PUC is putting on the pressure by starting a safety review of the city’s pipes:

The PUC’s review will focus on analyzing PGW’s current plan and removing barriers to accelerate replacement of cast iron and bare steel pipes with tougher plastic ones.

(PUC Chair Rob) Powelson said the commission, which has had regulatory oversight over the utility since 2000, will also consider whether to force the city of Philadelphia to give up its $18 million annual fee from PGW and put that money back into the main replacement program.

“Having a system that is going to be replaced in 88 years, I think if you ask the average citizen, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when something’s going to happen,” Powelson said.

The review will be complete by April 15.