New O&R High Performance Gas Mains Provide More Reliable Service

With the successful completion of its current $1.6- million gas main replacement project in Suffern this month, O&R has removed all cast-iron pipes — some of the oldest pipe in the gas system — from its Rockland gas distribution system and has replaced that equipment with high-pressure, high-performance plastic gas mains.

That cast-iron removal and gas delivery upgrade to a high-pressure system provide a number of substantial service improvements that mean major safety and reliability benefits to O&R customers.

Unlike cast-iron or early-vintage steel mains, the new high-performance plastic mains are corrosion proof, providing substantially more protection against gas leaks. The new, high-pressure natural gas system also provides more flexibility to enhance reliable and safe operation of the gas distribution system.

Today’s announcement represents the completion of the latest phase of a gas main replacement program that between 2003 and 2015 replaced approximately 35 miles of cast-iron gas pipes in O&R’s service area in Orange and Rockland counties, and upgraded those systems from low pressure to high pressure service.

Most recently, in 2015, O&R replaced 95,000 feet of cast iron and early-vintage steel natural gas main with high-performance plastic in Orange and Rockland counties. The utility plans to replace another 110,000 feet of gas main in 2016, 115,000 feet in 2017 and 120,000 feet in 2018.

The Suffern project replaced about 4,740 feet of cast-iron main and 460 feet of early-vintage steel main with high-performance plastic gas main.

In addition to Suffern, O&R has replaced cast-iron gas pipes and upgraded to a high pressure gas delivery system in Garnerville, Piermont, Haverstraw, and Nyack. O&R plans to finish replacing the remaining cast-iron pipe in Orange County, where it has already begun replacing cast-iron and upgrading the gas system in Port Jervis and Middletown, over the next three years. 

This year, O&R will spend over $20 million in the gas main replacement program. That’s more than half of the capital budget for the O&R gas business.

In addition to the cast-iron and early-vintage steel gas main replacement program, O&R analyzes its entire gas delivery system — 1,858 miles of pipe — each year to target the mains most likely to leak, and these are then scheduled for removal so that the safety of the system can be optimized.

In addition to cast iron, which is among the oldest pipe in the system, the main replacement program also targets steel mains installed prior to 1971, and mains made of an early vintage plastic material that can be leak prone.

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