Con Edison Steps Up Gas Safety Patrols, Studying New Ways To Quantify Methane Emissions, Accelerate Gas Main Replacement

Offers Online Map Tracking Gas Leak Repair & Monitoring -- Con Edison said today the company is taking several steps to further enhance the safety of its natural gas distribution system in parts of New York City and Westchester County.  These steps include significantly increasing patrols of the company’s 4,300 miles of gas mains; working with outside experts to quantify methane emissions, and providing greater transparency over gas leak monitoring and repair.

To help identify gas leaks sooner and prevent major incidents, the company said it has dramatically increased its system-wide patrols of gas mains from once per year to 13 times per year, an average of at least one per month.

“Delivering safe, reliable energy and protecting the environment are always our top concerns,” said Con Edison President Craig Ivey.  “By significantly increasing the rate of our gas leak patrols, we can spot potential problems sooner and better protect the public. A pilot program we began this past summer to increase gas patrols has led to this new commitment that we think will be one of the most aggressive detection programs in the country.  We are enhancing public safety, working with outside experts to better manage methane emissions, and offering the public more information about how gas leaks are repaired or monitored.”

“Transparency is always the best policy, whether you’re talking about public safety or the environment, and Con Ed is to be commended for taking a national leadership position here,” said Mark Brownstein, associate vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund.  “Natural gas leaks are an important source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas pollutant, and steps to reduce these leaks are not only good for safety, they are an important step in the fight against climate change.  Finding and fixing gas leaks is not only a priority for Con Ed, it must be a state and a national priority.”

Con Edison is working with EDF (www.edf.org/), gas measurement experts and other utilities to develop new strategies to quantify methane emissions from non-hazardous gas leaks. The purpose of this initiative is to prioritize the repair of such leaks, with the goal of accelerating a reduction in the rate of methane emissions from Con Edison’s gas distribution system.

Methane emissions from natural gas distribution systems such as Con Edison’s represent a small portion of the total amount of methane lost in the production and distribution of natural gas nationwide. Methane, however, is a significant greenhouse gas pollutant, and Con Edison is committed to reducing methane emissions from its gas delivery system as much as possible.

Con Edison also is working with the City of New York on an initiative to coordinate the replacement of leak-prone gas pipe when the city replaces sections of its water and sewer systems. The initiative will help Con Edison exceed its already planned commitment to replace an average of 65 miles of gas mains per year through 2016.

To promote greater education about gas leaks and how the company addresses them, Con Edison has created an online gas map www.coned.com/gasmap that provides the location of current gas leaks on its system, along with data indicating the severity of the leaks.

The map will be updated every 24 hours and is intended to provide greater transparency on current gas system leaks, as well as information about how citizens should report gas odors. More gas leaks tend to occur in the cold winter months than in other times of year due to the freeze and thaw cycle underground.

Any areas experiencing natural gas leaks found during Con Edison’s patrols, or reported by the public calling in a gas odor, are made safe by field crews, and the location is documented and categorized based on the leak’s severity and other conditions.  This process applies to every confirmed leak, whether discovered by Con Edison’s patrols, other emergency services personnel, or the public.

Leaks classified as Type 1 or 2 on the map are considered priority leaks, which the company immediately makes safe and repairs as soon as possible. The vast majority of gas leaks are Type 3, which are not considered hazardous but are monitored at least once per year.  As conditions permit, such as during planned street excavations, Type 3 leaks can be scheduled for permanent repair.

Gas leaks can occur for a number of reasons, including pipe corrosion or accidents during street excavations. All leak repairs and leak-prone pipe replacement helps reduce methane emissions.

Con Edison reminds customers to call 911 or 1-800-75CONED immediately if they smell gas, and to call from a safe location away from the gas odor. Click here to learn what to do if you smell gas: www.coned.com/gassafety.

Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenues and $41 billion in assets. The utility provides electric, gas and steam service to more than three million customers in New York City and Westchester County, New York. For additional financial, operations and customer service information, visit us on the Web at www.conEd.com, at our green site, www.coned.com/waystosave , or find us on Facebook at Con Edison.