The Dallas gas utility linked to several area explosions will replace nearly twice the number of potentially vulnerable steel service lines this year than it originally  projected, according to company figures provided to regulators.

In a supplemental plan filed this week with the Texas Railroad Commission, Atmos Mid-Tex detailed plans to replace 30,000 steel service lines in its service territory. That’s up from the earlier announced plans to replace 17,000 lines.

The company revamped its plans after a Feb. 23 house explosion killed a 12-year-old girl in Dallas. Several other explosions also rocked homes on parallel streets and another explosion injured two men in April.

Aging and potentially vulnerable cast iron or steel pipes feed many homes in the Dallas area. According to reports, these older pipes are more prone to cracks, corrosion and underground leaks than more contemporary service lines.

ACSC General Counsel Geoffrey Gay

Atmos Mid-Tex this week also detailed a slight increase in the miles of iron clad pipe it expects to replace by the year’s end —from 80 to 82.  The company provided the new estimates in a July 2 filing to the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the utility.

Geoffrey Gay, general counsel for the Atmos Cities Steering Committee that represents the interests of cities and their citizens in Atmos rate cases, said he welcomed the accelerated replacements.  “We believe this is an improvement and we encourage Atmos to get it done as quickly as possible,” he said.

Atmos said it is adding 20 additional crews to the 90 it already planned to deploy earlier in the year. But despite the increased urgency, the speed of pipe replacement nonetheless will be “influenced by the availability of materials; trained and qualified employees to design, coordinate, and inspect the level of construction activity; contractors and fill material to conduct street repairs; and city resources to support the increased level of activity,” according to the company’s July 2 filing.

Atmos Mid-Tex President John Paris told Gay that he hopes to replace all of the approximately 250,000 remaining steel service lines within five years.  Atmos has said it will prioritize pipe replacements based on leak survey data and a probabilistic risk analysis approved by the Railroad Commission.

— R.A. Dyer