At Alagasco, our number one priority is the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas. An important part of operating a safe system is our pipeline evaluation and replacement program.
The program involves teams of experts who regularly evaluate the pipeline system. They examine a number of factors to determine the condition of the pipes, including the material the pipe is made of, the age of the pipe, previous repair history, as well as evidence of corrosion. We use this information to prioritize pipeline replacements. When we can, we coordinate with cities and other utilities to schedule replacement work and minimize the impact on the community.
In the Alagasco service area, we have invested an average of $24 million each year over the past 5 years to replace gas main.
Cast iron and bare steel, as of December 2014, now make up 12 percent of the 11,017 miles of gas distribution main in the Alagasco system. Our pipeline replacement program has made, and will continue to make, our pipeline system safer.
This program is separate from our response to leaks. In the interest of safety we have always responded immediately to any report of a leak. Upon arrival, we assess the severity of the leak and determine the proper response. At Alagasco the average response time to a reported leak is about 30 minutes.
Regardless of pipeline material, the number one reason for damage to our system resulting in leaks is caused by excavation, usually by third party contractors. This is why we continue to promote programs like Alabama 811 to raise awareness of the need to locate pipelines before digging.
We regularly share safety tips with our customers including how to detect a natural gas leak. Because natural gas is odorless, we add an odorant, which makes the gas smell like rotten eggs, so that everyone can detect a leak. If customers smell natural gas we tell them to leave the area immediately and call 911 or Alagasco. Our teams also work with fire departments and other first responders to train on responding to reported natural gas leaks.
We submit detailed pipeline data to state and federal regulators on an annual basis. Significant incidents are reported on the Department of Transportation website.
We want to assure the public that pipelines are the safest method to transport natural gas across the country. These pipelines enable us to keep families warm and provide safe, clean, reliable energy to the businesses we serve.
Alagasco's Pipeline Replacement (print version)