GLENS FALLS — Motorists and residents may have noticed National Grid trucks and crews working along streets in the neighborhood around Jackson Heights Elementary School in recent weeks.
The summer is “prime time” for natural gas line replacement efforts by the utility, according to spokesman Patrick Stella, and leaky lines detected in the Jackson Heights area are getting an upgrade.
The leaks were not considered dangerous, and Stella explained why not all gas leaks are created equal.
“This is (state) Public Service Commission regulation, but a type one leak would be an emergency leak, and that would be something we would respond to immediately,” Stella said. “Type two leaks give us a larger time frame to work with. A type three is a leak that’s ... not dangerous in any way, and it goes onto our regular docket of work that needs to get done. It could take months to get to those.”
The Jackson Heights lines have type three leaks. Those are typically called in by customers who smell gas, Stella said.
When a leak is reported, the utility sends a crew to inspect the area, using devices that can determine the concentration of gas. Based on that, the leak is given a priority level and reported to the Public Service Commission.
This year, National Grid plans to replace about one mile of older, steel and cast iron gas pipes in the city of Glens Falls. About another mile will be replaced in South Glens Falls, Stella said.
The new pipes are made of plastic, and it’s too early to tell how long they will last, since the utility has been switching to plastic for the past 20 years and no pipes have worn out yet.
“They don’t corrode,” Stella said. “The only time we’ve replaced them is with a dig-in or if there’s some type of damage done to it.”
Some of the steel and cast-iron pipes being replaced now were put in the ground 50 to 80 years ago, Stella said.
As of Tuesday, a total of 2,666 feet of pipe had been replaced in South Glens Falls, where 5,435 feet of pipe will be replaced this summer. A total of 3,511 feet of pipe had been replaced in Glens Falls, where 5,095 feet of pipe is scheduled for upgrade.
Stella said about 35 miles of natural gas pipe will be replaced in upstate New York this year by National Grid. The work will cost about $30 million.
“New York has some of the most strict natural gas regulation, as far as replacement and testing, in the United States,” Stella said.
The Public Service Commission issued a press release Thursday about its “2012 Gas Safety Performance Measures Report,” which showed the state’s natural gas infrastructure has become consistently safer since 2003, when the PSC and utilities operating in the state agreed to a more proactive safety and maintenance plan.
The report is available on the commission’s website at www.dps.ny.gov.