Repair vs. Replace
What to do with all our leaking gas pipes…
Massachusetts has one of the oldest natural gas systems in the country. As of September 2023, more than 11,000 gas leaks were reported statewide, and as of 2020, around 22% of the state’s gas pipes were considered leakprone. Besides being a safety and health hazard, those pipes leak gobs of methane, and gas customers are paying for all that leaking gas.
So let’s fix the leaks, right?
Massachusetts created GSEP—the Gas System Enhancement Program—in 2014 as a way for its six investor-owned natural gas distribution companies to accelerate the replacement of this leaking infrastructure by 2039. That sounds good, but…
Wait, how much did you say it will cost?
GSEP’s total cost is now projected to exceed $60 billion. That’s more than twice the cost of Boston’s Big Dig—which was the most expensive highway project in U.S. history. All of that cash is coming out of rate payers’ pockets. Ouch.
Don’t we want to get off gas?
Why are we replacing miles and miles of gas pipe when by law, Massachusetts has committed to being net-zero by 2050?
One important reason we replace gas pipes is safety—some pipes need to be replaced immediately to prevent the risk of explosion.
Another reason given is to cut methane emissions quickly by eliminating leaky pipes. That’s a great goal—but it's usually much cheaper to repair leaks, even repeatedly, than to replace pipes. Because methane is such a powerful greenhouse gas, we should fix the largest-volume leaks as fast as possible.
Switching to geothermal networks is the best way to get off gas for good!
HEET proposes that the utilities develop strategic, street-by-street plans to move from gas to geo as fast as possible, wherever possible.
You can help!
Want the gas pipes on your street replaced with a geothermal network? Put your name on our Want Geo map. The more people who ask for this cost-effective, renewable heating and cooling, the faster we’ll get off gas and onto clean heat! You can also contact your state reps and tell them you support the Future of Clean Heat legislation.