Con Edison to Pilot Test Residential Methane Detectors
Technology Advances Could Be a Game Changer for Gas Safety -- Con Edison plans to place methane detectors and alarms in dozens of homes next year to test the detectors’ effectiveness in alerting residents to natural gas leaks.
Marc Huestis, the utility’s senior vice president, Gas Operations, told members of the New York State Assembly today that methane detection technology has advanced to the point where it is ready for field testing.
“We believe natural gas alarms could help avoid tragedies and save lives by prompting action in response to an alarm versus someone relying on their nose and perhaps wondering if it’s gas they smell,” Huestis said. “But we emphasize that with or without an alarm, anyone who suspects they smell gas should act immediately.”
Huestis said that if the field testing is successful, the utility will advocate for laws requiring the detectors and alarms in homes and multi-unit residential buildings in the same way carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are required now.
Con Edison last year began an aggressive public outreach campaign called “Smell Gas, Act Fast” to urge people to immediately leave the area and call 911 or their utility if they suspect they may smell gas. The campaign, which has included ads in print, online, on the radio and in subways, emphasizes that anyone who suspects a gas odor should not assume that someone else will call.
While “Smell Gas, Act Fast” has contributed to a sharp increase in the number of gas leak calls, the sounding of an alarm would signal that a person should call for help without hesitating to determine whether the odor is actually gas.
Huestis updated Assembly members on measures Con Edison is taking to ensure the safe, reliable operation of its gas delivery system. He said the utility has increased surveys of its distribution mains from once a year to once a month and is on pace to exceed its goal of replacing an average of 65 miles of main annually from 2014 to 2016.
The company has also enhanced its coordination with the New York City and Westchester County fire departments when it comes to responding to gas leak calls.