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Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. seeks approval for $963 million pipeline improvement program

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. is seeking approval from the state’s Public Service Commission for a $963 million pipeline improvement program.

The five-year plan to upgrade the region’s natural gas system would begin in 2019 and would be paid for partially by a customer surcharge, if approved by the commission.

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A 2013 law enabled gas utilities to collect a surcharge in order to recoup some of the cost of updating pipelines and expedite the process of replacing dated infrastructure with modern equipment that is safer and more reliable. The law caps the monthly surcharge to residential customers at $2.

The plan, called Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement (or STRIDE) 2, would continue work started under the initial five-year STRIDE plan that ends next year.

“As the first gas company in the country, BGE has been at the forefront of developing gas infrastructure, however, that infrastructure system was built with materials that that are now largely outdated and nearing the end of their useful service,” said spokesman Justin Mulcahy. “The STRIDE model allows BGE to further accelerate the pace of the work in a financially prudent way for customers.”

Maryland regulators said Wednesday that they will allow Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to charge gas customers a monthly fee to pick up the pace of replacing aging pipes — the first such surcharge in the state.

In the first four years of the natural gas system modernization plan, BGE replaced more than 150 miles of gas mainlines and 32,000 service pipes, BGE said Monday.

BGE said it has spent a total of $380 million in gas system upgrades, including about $130 million in 2017.

The modernization work has created 850 full-time jobs in the state, 600 of which are working on BGE projects.

When completed, the updated natural gas system is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 210,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year compared to 2013, the equivalent of 44,000 fewer cars on the road, according to BGE.

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