D.C. Public Service Commission Says No to $672 Million Gas Pipe Replacement Program


The Public Service Commission unanimously voted not to fund Washington Gas’s ProjectPipes 3


The District of Columbia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted no to a $672 million unnecessary gas pipe replacement program that would have raised rates, put public health at risk, and contradicted the District’s climate goals. The PSC’s decision marks a pivotal moment for regulating corporate utility provider Washington Gas, pushing it to better align its plans with the District’s climate goals and the continued progress of electrification initiatives.

In its June 12 order, the PSC dismissed Washington Gas’s request to fund ProjectPipes 3 and required the company to submit a new plan that aligns with the District’s climate goals within 45 days. The Commission’s decision to not fund ProjectPipes 3 saves customers money and stops a gas pipe replacement program that undercuts the District’s goal of reducing its fossil fuel use in its buildings and becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

Additionally, in a separate but related order released on the same day, the PSC partially granted the Office of the People’s Counsel’s request to investigate Washington Gas’s leak reduction practices. Alongside the dismissal of ProjectPipes 3, this decision indicates a recognition of Washington Gas’s history of inadequate leak reduction, including the utility’s prioritization of potentially leaking pipes over actually leaking pipes, which puts D.C. residents in extra and unnecessary danger.

“The Commission listened to residents and made the right decision,” said Earthjustice Attorney Susan Stevens-Miller. “Washington Gas’s ProjectPipes puts our public health at risk and is contrary to D.C.’s climate goals. A precedent is now set: gas companies can’t risk our health and the environment to line stakeholders’ pockets.”

After Washington Gas sought PSC approval for the project in April 2023, the D.C. Beyond Gas and Stop Project Pipes coalitions organized rallies and letter-writing campaigns against it. Coalition members urged the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment to address the inconsistency between ProjectPipes and the city’s electrification laws. Earthjustice, Sierra Club, CCAN Action Fund, and 23 other organizations also opposed ProjectPipes’ third phase, citing its high cost and misalignment with the District’s climate goals. In February, the D.C. Council warned the PSC that further investment in gas infrastructure conflicted with the city’s climate objectives.

“This decision marks an important turning point in D.C. By rethinking the scope of ProjectPipes, the PSC is preparing to align utility spending with the need for an electrified future,” said Katie Meyer, Clean Energy Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club D.C. Chapter. “This decision is also critical for protecting D.C. residents, especially low-income residents, from being stuck paying the costs of new gas pipes for decades, even after the pipes become stranded assets because they are no longer useful in an electrified District. The costs of these stranded assets would have disproportionately fallen on low-income D.C. residents who cannot easily leave the gas system because they cannot afford the up-front costs of electrifying their homes.”

According to the PSC, the gas company’s new request must demonstrate greenhouse gas emission reductions, cost-effectiveness, and integration with ongoing electrification programs.

“The PSC took an important step forward toward the future D.C. residents deserve with this decision. It is a recognition that Washington Gas’s business-as-usual approach is no longer acceptable,” said Naomi Cohen-Shields, D.C. Campaign Manager for CCAN Action Fund. “And while this is a major victory for our coalitions, it is only one step on the path to hold Washington Gas accountable and move us toward a fossil-free future. Washington Gas will do everything it can to keep D.C. hooked on gas. We urge the Commissioners to remain vigilant to ensure the new plan that is put forth isn’t just a rebranded ProjectPipes, but rather a truly scaled-down plan focused on actually fixing the worst leaks in the interest of our safety, health, and climate.”

Close up of burning gas stove.
(Maciej Toporowicz / Getty Images)

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