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Dominion Energy’s natural gas operations have a strong record of extremely reliable service. In a typical year, they experience no service interruptions at the transmission level and very rare interruptions at the distribution level. We respond to all reported gas emergencies. In 98 percent of all cases, we are onsite within 60 minutes.
Pipeline Maintenance and Replacement
To maintain that level of performance — and even improve it — we have put several programs in place that focus on both pipeline maintenance and pipeline replacement.
In 2019, both our Gas Transmission and Storage and Gas Distribution business units used smart pigs — sensor-laden computerized devices that travel inside gas pipelines to detect anomalies such as dents and corrosion — on 1,044 miles of transmission lines. We completed pipe-to-soil corrosion inspections on 1,323 miles of transmission lines, and conducted casing inspections on 135 of our natural gas wells. For more about such efforts, see the section later in this report on Pipeline Safety and Integrity..
We have spent more than $1.8 billion so far to replace more than 1,900 miles of transmission and distribution pipe in Ohio, where Dominion Energy Ohio serves approximately 1.2 million customers. In 2019, the company invested $210 million and replaced approximately 195 miles of pipe in our Ohio and West Virginia systems.
In 2016, Dominion Energy West Virginia (DEWV) launched its Pipeline Replacement and Expansion Program (PREP), through which DEWV would replace more than 1,000 miles of the company’s 3,146-mile distribution pipeline system over a period of more than 50 years. In 2019, the West Virginia Public Service Commission approved shifting the PREP program to a 24-year replacement time frame, which will effectively double the recent replacement rate starting in 2023. DEWV will upgrade bare-steel, ineffectively coated steel, cast-iron, wrought-iron and copper pipelines to either effectively coated steel or plastic pipe. While existing lines are safe, these enhancements will ensure that the company continues to meet applicable regulations. The new pipe will be more durable and resistant to corrosion, which will enable DEWV to ensure safe, reliable service for years to come.
In Utah, Wyoming, North Carolina, and South Carolina, all cast-iron, bare-steel, and ineffectively coated steel pipe has been replaced. We have spent more than $500 million in our Utah service territory, where we serve more than 1 million customers. In 2019, our Western-state operations replaced almost 19 miles of mostly 24-inch diameter pipe.
Though the early impetus for these programs was service reliability and pipeline safety, by addressing the less robust components of our distribution infrastructure, Dominion Energy is reducing methane emissions at the same time. These initiatives support our commitments to reduce methane emission from operations, as more fully described in the “Climate Change” section of this report.
Some parts of the U.S. are reaping the benefits of the natural gas revolution, including ample supply and low prices. Others face severe supply constraints because of inadequate infrastructure. In 2019, Dominion Energy sought to address this deficiency through new infrastructure projects. In July 2020, we announced the pending sale of substantially all of our gas storage and transmission business to Berkshire Hathaway Energy. While some of the projects described here are expected to migrate to the control of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, we still consider them important elements in the effort to prevent shortages and service curtailments in their respective regions.
In Virginia and Maryland, we placed into service the Eastern Market Access project, an expansion of pipeline capacity to help serve constrained markets served by Washington Gas Light Co.
In Ohio, we completed the $40+-million expansion of the Chippewa Compressor Station in Wayne County, which helped ensure that Dominion Energy could continue meeting its contractual obligations to customers with minimal environmental disturbance.
By the end of 2019, Dominion Energy North Carolina (DENC) had nearly completed construction of its new M-64 pipeline, which provided several benefits to the western part of the state. First, it provides a secondary supply source of natural gas, improving service reliability to that important region. Second, it allows the company to adjust operating pressures on other pipelines in the area, improving overall system safety. Finally, M-64 brings gas service to areas previously unserved, including parts of McDowell County — where residents were so supportive of the project they held community dinners to support the pipeline workers.
Resilience and Recovery
With the need for continued reliability in one of the fastest-growing states in the country, Dominion Energy Utah analyzed options the company could pursue to ensure supply dependability and avoid disruptions. We concluded that the best available long-term solution would be construction of an LNG facility. Dominion Energy is working with regulators to obtain approval for this option.
On January 30, 2020, in Ohio, our gas operations set a record for total throughput of 3,097,833 million cubic feet (MMcf), with a peak hourly rate of 3,292,263 MMcf/d, during a period of sustained below-zero temperatures. Supply issues from various interconnects led to a temporary shortage during peak hours; Dominion Energy responded by pushing approximately 1 billion cubic feet (Bcf) from storage. The ability to deliver this volume under extreme conditions validated the investments we make in systems and people to ensure uninterrupted service when our customers need it most.
Sometimes things go wrong despite our best efforts. When that happens, we work swiftly to restore service and make sure our customers are taken care of. In Rocky River, Ohio, a gas main leak left about 200 customer accounts without service in the middle of winter. By 7 a.m. the next morning, we had restored service to 90 percent of them. We also offered free hotel rooms to customers affected by the outage.
“Every single Dominion employee that crossed my path during these not ideal days was absolutely wonderful! The response time, attentiveness, kindness, politeness and over all respectful employees truly amazed me. They were working in horrible conditions and did not stop until the issue was fixed. I know they still have a huge project ahead of them to completely fix the problem, but I want it to be known that from myself and my many neighbors, we all greatly appreciate the work that has been done. The customer service at Dominion is top notch!”