Fixing Our Pipes: Coordinating Natural Gas Main Replacement

Between Local Governments and Gas Companies

Our Aging Infrastructure

DID YOU KNOW: Massachusetts has some of the oldest natural gas main infrastructure in the nation. The average age of pipe is >60 years, and over 30% of this infrastructure consists of leak-prone pipe, primarily made of cast-iron.


The Cost of Gas Leaks

Leaks in the State’s distribution system are likely to release 1-5% of all greenhouse gas emissions (in carbon dioxide equivalents) in the State annually. Leaks cost ratepayers

$11-60 Million

per year in Massachusetts


Accelerating Repairs

In 2014, gas companies filed Gas System Enhancement Plans to replace all leak-prone pipe in 20-25 years. In order to access the pipes, the gas company must cut through municipally-owned and maintained streets. This will be a huge challenge: With a 60% increase in annual miles replaced compared to 2014 and a short construction season (April to November), meeting this timeline will be daunting and require efficient coordination between municipalities and gas companies. Over half of municipalities surveyed already expressed low satisfaction with current coordination and frustration that gas companies cut into their streets too much, which leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Prioritizing Super-emitters

Targeting pipes with “super-emitters” - the largest leaks - is a cost-effective way to get started on the problem, but measuring volume of leaked gas is currently cost-prohibitive. Research from this study suggests that the surface area impacted by a leak could be a practical way to identify super-emitters. Only 8% of leaks made up nearly 50% of the area of soil impacted by all leaks.

The Cost of Not Coordinating

Replacing gas mains is expensive, about $1 million per mile. That’s over $5.4 billion to replace all leak-prone pipe. Through coordination, we can avoid much of that cost.

Total Saved:

Over 20-25 Years.

This cost-savings analysis assumes a certain percentage of roads can be coordinated. To change this assumption, select from the options below:

of roads were coordinated.


Our Future

Over the next 25 years, gas companies will replace all leak-prone pipes, but what will it look like on our way there? We’ll need efficient coordination to make it a smooth journey: reducing cost, protecting our streets, and providing opportunities to upgrade other infrastructure, like water and sewer mains.


Get Started.

We interviewed municipalities and gas companies across the region, documented effective solutions, evaluated using gas leak surveys, and developed best practice recommendations.

Best Practices

We made a best practice guide to help.

Read the Report

Learn how cities are doing it right.

Case Studies

See how diverse municipalities and a gas company are innovating on coordination.