Columbia Gas announces $18 million infrastructure upgrade for 2011Written by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia Gas of Ohio announced a 12 project, 32-mile natural gas infrastructure upgrade in Toledo for 2011.
“By investing in our infrastructure, we are investing in our community,” said Chris Kozak, communications and community relations manager for the company during a press conference.
The upgrade represents up to $18 million in investment for Toledo and is part of a 25-year, $200 million investment across Northwest Ohio, Kozak said. By the project’s completion, Columbia Gas will have invested $2 billion throughout the state and replaced roughly 400 miles of natural gas lines in Northwest Ohio, he said.
“We’re extremely happy that [Columbia Gas] is going to be able to help us with our infrastructure,” said Mayor Mike Bell. “Things get old and they start to wear out and what we have to do is be able replace it; that the Columbia Gas crew is prepared to come in and do that is a great thing.”
Columbia Gas will replace the aging bare steel lines, with some dating pre-WWII, with plastic pipelines that are designed to better handle pressure and easier to replace, Kozak said. The new pipes have a 60-to-70-year lifespan and have a safety feature, called an excess flow valve, that will shut off the gas flow in case of a severed line.
“Our hope is to go into one of these neighborhoods, re-wire the entire system, bring the natural gas system up-to-date, make it state of the art,” Kozak said. “With our new automated meter reading devices, we won’t have to come back to that neighborhood for 60 of 70 years unless there is a gas issue.”
Columbia Gas has identified areas where there are high leak issues and will start replacing the pipes in those areas. The 12 different projects throughout the city are expected to affect roughly 5,000 customers, Kozak said.
The old pipelines will be abandoned in place and Columbia Gas will utilize a technique called directional drilling underground to install the plastic lines. Kozak said removing the old steel lines would require an open cut and is more invasive.
Columbia Gas has hired and contracted 12 different employees to install the new lines and it’s estimated for every dollar spent on the project there is a $1.60 economic impact in Northwest Ohio, Kozak said.
Funding for the 25-year project came from Columbia Gas’ 2008 rate case, which increased the average bill by 2.5 percent to the company’s
1.4 million customers.