Michigan is one of the nation’s leaders in the amount of outdated, leaky cast-iron and wrought-iron natural gas pipes, according to a report published Sunday.
The state has 3,153 miles of the pipes, fifth in the nation, the Detroit Free Press reported. New Jersey is first with 5,138 miles, followed by New York with 4,541, Massachusetts with 3,901 and Pennsylvania with 3,260 miles.
DTE Energy Co. and CMS Energy Corp. are Michigan’s leading natural gas suppliers, and the newspaper said they have replaced only 15 percent of the antiquated lines in the past decade.
“This aging infrastructure needs to come out of the ground as fast as possible,” said Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a Bellingham, Wash.-based group promoting fuel-transportation safety. “They need to do the analysis of where the worst of it is and get the stuff out.”
CMS’s Consumers Energy unit has 626 miles of cast- and wrought-iron pipeline in its gas system, or about 2.4 percent of the utility’s total distribution system. It has replaced 21 percent of its wrought- and cast-iron mains since 2004. On Feb. 27, a Consumers Energy crew was replacing eight-decade-old pipelines in Royal Oak when a natural-gas explosion killed one resident and damaged 31 homes.
DTE has a far larger stock of the outdated lines, 2,499 miles, the newspaper said. That is second in the nation behind Public Service Electric & Gas of New Jersey at 4,202 miles.
A 2010 report by the Michigan Public Service Commission, a utility regulator, expressed “great concern” about DTE’s “ability to provide safe and reliable service” because of its significant amount of aging pipelines and lack of action to replace them.
Bob Richard, executive vice president for gas operations of the company’s DTE Gas unit, said the problem is being rectified now.
“We’ve hired 100 people to work 100 percent on pipeline safety in our distribution system over the last two years,” he said.
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