Client: Gas Leak Allies
Authors: Bryndis Woods, Liz Stanton, PhD, and Eliandro Tavares
November 2018 - May 2019
Researcher Bryndis Woods, Clinic Director and Senior Economist Liz Stanton, PhD, and Assistant Researcher Eliandro Tavares prepared a policy brief discussing natural gas leaks in Massachusetts and assessing the return on investment for gas leak repairs in the Commonwealth.
The policy brief estimates the payback period for repairing two volume-based categories of non-explosion-hazard gas leaks (called “Grade 3” leaks):
Leaks of Significant Environmental Impact (“Grade 3 SEI”): The top 10 percent of Grade 3 leaks, which is responsible for approximately 53 percent of lost gas.
Other Grade 3 leaks: The bottom 90 percent of Grade 3 leaks, which is responsible for 47 percent of lost gas.
The policy brief concludes that, while the average cost to fix a Grade 3 leak is approximately the same ($3,740) regardless of the leak volume, the cost of lost gas is not. Grade 3 SEI leaks cost $3,850 a year in lost gas, on average, while Other Grade 3 leaks cost $380. This ten-to-one difference in the cost of leaked gas means that SEI leaks pay for their own repairs ten times faster than other Grade 3 leaks; in 1 year versus 10 years, respectively (see Figure above).
This policy brief is the second of two AEC publications on behalf of Gas Leak Allies. Our April 2019 policy brief analyzed performance-based incentives that can align Massachusetts natural gas utilities' business interests with their responsibility to reduce emissions.