The Associated Press
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Vectren Corp. has proposed replacing more than 1,000 miles of aging, underground natural gas lines across much of Indiana in a project costing some $865 million.
The project is aimed at improving safety by removing bare steel and cast iron distribution mains and installing new pipes, most of which will be plastic, the Evansville-based utility company said.
Vectren's pipeline infrastructure meets current safety guidelines, but the upgrades are need to meet new, stricter federal safety regulations, said Carl Chapman, the company's chairman, president and CEO.
"The first priority is safety and reliable service," Chapman told the Evansville Courier & Press.
Vectren has submitted the plan to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for approval. It is broken into two proposals — a $650 million project involving about 800 miles of pipeline in its north territory covering much of central Indiana and $215 million to replace 300 miles of pipeline in southwestern Indiana.
If state regulators approve the plan, Vectren estimates residential customers will see about a $1 increase in their monthly gas bills starting in 2015. That increase would ramp up over time, Chapman said, and would likely grow to $13 or $14 a month by 2020.
Utility commission spokeswoman Danielle McGrath said a decision on Vectren's plan likely won't be made until next year.
Company officials estimate it will take about seven years to complete the project, which will affect about 7 percent of its Indiana pipelines.
"Some of these pipes have been in the ground for a good while ... 60 to 70 years in some cases," Chapman told The Indianapolis Star.
Some 680,000 homes and businesses around the state receive natural gas service from Vectren.