By Claudia Johnson
PEORIA - State lawmakers are proposing a fix to rotting natural gas pipes.
State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is sponsoring a bill that will allow gas companies to upgrade Illinois’ underground gas pipes.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation 27 incidents resulting in injury and millions of dollars in property damage have resulted from the old gas lines in Illinois from 2002-11.
“We have systems that have been in place for sometimes almost 100 years. Those pipes are cast iron. They’re starting to leak. They’re not only causing hazards in certain areas, but a lot of the gas is lost into the atmosphere," Koehler said. "It becomes a pollutant. So it just makes sense that we allow our privately owned utilities to put the money into upgrade of their infrastructure.”
Koehler said the cost will go to the customers.
“The public ought to understand that ratepayers always pay the bill on infrastructure improvements, because that is where the money comes from. Some have suggested let’s just have the companies themselves take it out of their profits," Koehler said. "Their profits are in a regulated industry. Their profits are part of a formula that are approved. It’s regulated by government. So we’re doing really nothing out of the ordinary."
Koehler said due to the amount of work needed to repair the pipes, it will take many years to complete the job.