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Bill introduced to stop utilities from charging customers for natural gas lost to leaky pipes

Oil pump jacks work behind a natural gas flare near Watford City, N.D., in 2014. The oil and gas industry is lobbying lawmakers to repeal a rule that aims to limit the emissions of methane, the chief component of natural gas.
Eric Gay
/
AP
Oil pump jacks work behind a natural gas flare near Watford City, N.D., in 2014. The oil and gas industry is lobbying lawmakers to repeal a rule that aims to limit the emissions of methane, the chief component of natural gas.

A state senator wants to pass a law prohibiting natural gas utilities from charging customers for gas that leaks from pipes.

Democratic Senator Jeff Irwin says together Consumers Energy and D.T.E. Energy charge ratepayers about 25 million dollars a year for lost and unaccounted for gas.

“I want to provide an incentive for these utilities to go out there and tighten up these leaks, protect our environment, and protect our ratepayers too.”

He concedes it will cost more upfront to fix the leaks.

“But, over time you make that up. Continuing to let our system leak every year and just pay for the leaks every year doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Both Consumers and D.T.E. say they’ve already been fixing those leaks and will continue to do that until they accomplish net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

They say the legislation is unnecessary.