Washington, D.C. – A concerted effort by America’s natural gas utilities to upgrade and modernize our nation’s pipeline network to enhance safety has contributed to a declining trend in emissions from natural gas distribution systems. Now, the Board of Directors of the American Gas Association (AGA) has approved a set of voluntary guidelines that may lead to further emissions reductions. The report will serve as a resource for AGA members to assist in evaluating potential options for distribution systems.
“Natural gas utilities continue to drive down emissions by replacing and upgrading infrastructure,” said AGA Chairman Gregg Kantor. “These guidelines represent lessons learned in our industry for effective ways to reduce emissions from pipeline systems as part of our deep commitment to help ensure that natural gas continues to be safe for our customers and our environment.”
The guidelines list several measures that can help modernize distribution systems and reduce emissions, including pipe replacement, installing low or no bleed valves in place of high bleed pneumatic devices; enhancing damage prevention programs; measures for reducing emissions during repair or replacement projects; directed inspection and maintenance programs; and pipeline repair and lining techniques. Utilities can employ strategies that are appropriate for their pipeline network and geographic area in consultation with their local regulators.
Kantor continued: “We work closely with regulators to help ensure we are delivering safe and reliable energy at affordable prices. These voluntary guidelines will allow us to work on reducing emissions while continuing the consistent service our customers have come to depend on.”
The White House Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions recognizes efforts by natural gas utilities to continue the declining trend in emissions.
• According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory only 0.24 percent of produced natural gas is emitted from systems operated by local natural gas utilities and nearly 90 percent of the emissions declines from distribution systems since 1990 are due to pipeline replacements.
• In the past 25 years, natural gas utilities have installed modern plastic pipes used for delivering gas at low pressure at a rate of 30,000 miles per year, and cathodically protected steel mains used for high pressure delivery at a rate of 1,500 miles per year, both connecting new customers and upgrading existing pipeline infrastructure.
• 38 states have already adopted specific accelerated infrastructure replacement mechanisms to allow natural gas distribution utilities to recover the costs of replacing systems on a timely basis. AGA supports the expansion of these programs to include all utilities operating in these states, as well as the adoption of similar programs by additional states.
You can find more about the reduction in emissions from the natural gas distribution system here.