Area legislators gathered Monday to discuss the safety of Pennsylvania’s gas pipelines during a meeting in King of Prussia. State and federal regulators said hundreds of miles of century-old pipelines that carry natural gas need to be replaced.
In January, a gas pipeline explosion in Philadelphia killed a young utility worker. In February, a similar explosion in Allentown killed five people–including a 4-month-old baby.
Inspectors have said say some of those underground pipes are 80 to 100 years old and made of cast iron. They said it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” the pipes will fail.
But it will take $15 billion to replace the pipes. And officials said the money is not available.
U.S. Rep.Bud Shuster said $15 billion would work out to each gas customer paying between $4,700 and $5,000.
“At this point you can’t just go out and charge people that, they can’t afford it, and they’re not going to do it. But we have to do it in an incremental way. We have to do it in a way that makes sense,” said Shuster. “At the end of the day, it’s not magic. The taxpayer, the rate payer, they’re the ones that have to pay.”
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski made another suggestion–use a portion of the profits made by utility companies.
All participants in the discussion said replacing the aging pipelines is even more important given the rapid development of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves.