DC Public Service Commission Investigates Washington Gas Leaks

The D.C. Public Service Commission is starting an investigation into Washington Gas to look into how they detect and manage gas leaks. This decision came after the Office of the People’s Council (OPC) of the District of Columbia raised concerns about an increase in severe gas leaks, known as Grade 1 leaks.

Laurence Daniels, the OPC’s director of litigation, shared that they have been pushing for this investigation for a long time. The OPC, an independent agency that advocates for utility consumers, noticed a significant rise in Grade 1 leaks from 2014 to 2022. The numbers jumped from 689 leaks in 2014 to 1,019 in 2021, and slightly decreased to 969 in 2022.

The Public Service Commission recognized the need for more transparency in how Washington Gas Light Company (WGL) manages these leaks, especially given the issues with their PROJECTPipes infrastructure replacement project and the rising number of leaks.

WGL has argued that a new investigation isn’t needed, claiming that their ongoing pipe replacement project will eventually reduce leaks. However, the commission has decided to proceed with the investigation. They have reached out to WGL for their comments.

The goal of the investigation is to better understand how WGL detects and categorizes leaks, particularly what makes a leak a Grade 1 leak. The OPC is also pushing for a more transparent system, such as a mapping tool that lets the public see where leaks are and track their repair status, without compromising the city’s infrastructure security.

Moreover, the commission wants to know how WGL deals with “lost and unaccounted for” gas, as WGL has one of the highest rates of this in the nation. Daniels hopes this investigation will provide useful data for the city as it works towards using less natural gas and more electrification.

The investigation will start in the coming months and is expected to take several years to complete.

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