New Castle News

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April 3, 2014

Gas company to replace aging pipelines

NEW CASTLE — Columbia Gas Co. is planning at least four pipeline replacement projects in Lawrence County this year.

According to Sarah Perry, company spokeswoman, the projects are designed to continue upgrading existing, aging natural gas pipelines.

Areas of concentration this year are the Smithfield Street and Eastbrook Road areas and Rhodes Place in New Castle, and the Princeton Station Road area in Slippery Rock Township.

The Lawrence County commissioners received letters from Columbia Gas last week, notifying them the company intends to apply for permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for the projects.

According to the gas company, the proposed projects, tentatively slated to begin in the third quarter of the year, will:

•Install about 4,000 feet of natural gas pipelines along Smithfield, Etna, Carson and Fulkerson streets and West Washington Street between Smithfield and O’Brien Avenue. The crossing of an unnamed tributary of the Shenango River is included. The company plans to invest $500,000, impacting 88 customers.

•Replace about 2,300 feet of plastic natural gas pipeline along Eastbrook and Papermill roads and Cascade Street and cross an unnamed tributary of the Neshannock Creek. It represents a $474,000 investment, impacting 24 customers.

•Replace 6,600 feet of pipeline on Princeton Station Road and Norman Lane at a cost of about $511,000. About five customers will be impacted.

•Replace 1,300 feet of pipeline on Rhodes Place at an estimated cost of $250,000, affecting about 52 customers.

Perry said the new lines will carry no additional cost to the customers.

Since 2007, she noted, Columbia Gas has invested more than $700 million in modernizing and expanding its Pennsylvania gas distribution system, including nearly $540 million for replacing about 570 miles of pipe.

Last week, the company filed a request for with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for a rate increase, intended to recover the cost of various infrastructure improvements. The additional amount requested is $54.1 million.

If the PUC approves the hike, residential customers of Columbia Gas would see a boost of 10.4 percent in rates, while commercial customers would have an increase of 7.6 percent.

Perry said customers will be notified at least three days prior to work conducted on their properties and/or service lines.

Columbia’s policy is that it will restore property to the same or better condition than before the work started, Perry said.

Pointing out all employees and contractors carry cards with their name, photograph and identification number, Perry cautioned residents to always ask for identification before allowing anyone to enter their home.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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