Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Files Plan to Accelerate the
Modernization of Natural Gas Infrastructure
Plan complies with Maryland law passed in 2013 that is designed to enable gas utilities to address the long-term
safety and reliability of natural gas systems
BALTIMORE, – Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today announced that it has filed a plan with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to accelerate the modernization of its natural gas distribution system. BGE’s Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement (STRIDE) plan responds to legislation signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley in May of this year, making Maryland one of more than 30 states with similar initiatives to modernize natural gas systems to enhance safety and reliability. The STRIDE plan proposes to increase the rate of replacement of outmoded materials on the gas system—such as pipes manufactured with cast iron and uncoated steel—with durable, modern equipment. The new law provides a framework for utilities to recover their increased investments through a designated monthly surcharge for gas customers.
“BGE operates a safe and reliable natural gas system and this plan proposes a significant expansion of BGE’s programs to maintain the system over the long term,” said Robert D. Biagiotti, vice president of gas distribution for BGE. “Nationwide there is increased recognition of the importance of accelerating the replacement of outmoded natural gas infrastructure, as well as ensuring that utilities have an ability to recover expanded investments in safety and reliability in a timely manner. Maryland’s new law and BGE’s plan address both of these important considerations.”
Approximately 21 percent of BGE’s existing natural gas system mileage has been identified for replacement under the plan, with this equipment accounting for nearly 73 percent of all gas leak repairs. This includes removing more than 1,300 miles of cast iron and uncoated steel gas mains, as well as programs to replace more than 1,200 miles of gas service pipes serving individual customers. Some equipment identified for modernization is targeted to be completely replaced as soon as 2016, with all replacements completed within 30 years.
BGE’s plan proposes a monthly surcharge for residential customers in the first year of approximately $0.32. The law caps the monthly surcharge at a maximum $2.00 per month for residential customers, a level BGE estimates would not be reached until the fourth year of the program.
A number of consumer protections were built into this law and BGE’s plan, including a process that ensures that only a small portion of costs are recovered as investments are made, a maximum surcharge cap and ongoing reviews of utilities’ plans by the PSC. The PSC’s review of BGE’s plan is expected to begin shortly, concluding in late January 2014.
BGE encourages customers to take advantage of opportunities to save on their total energy bill by shopping for a competitive natural gas or electricity supplier. More than 20 percent of BGE’s gas customers have chosen a third-party supplier. In addition, customers can help offset the requested
surcharge through a number of BGE programs designed to identify ways to reduce overall energy use, including Quick Home Energy Check-ups and Home energy performance audits and rebates for high-efficiency natural gas furnaces available at www.bgesmartenergy.com.