After receiving several consumer complaints of “unsafe, shoddy and careless” work by Washington Gas Light Company in relocating residential meters, People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye on Wednesday filed a petition requesting the Public Service Commission to order WGL to immediately suspend the work while the PSC conducts an investigation of the allegations.
The Office of the People’s Counsel petition seeks a formal PSC investigation into WGL’s meter relocation and pipe replacement practices. The company’s two active pipeline replacement programs, ProjectPipes and the Vintage Mechanical Coupling Replacement program, have simultaneously removed or updated aging pipes and moved meters from inside homes to the outside.
In recent weeks, however, OPC has received numerous complaints from ratepayers in neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill, Foggy Bottom and Chevy Chase concerned about the quality of the construction and lack of respect for their property.
“OPC understands that in conjunction with WGL’s pipeline replacement programs, it is reasonable for the company to relocate gas meters for safety and access reasons,” said the People’s Counsel. “However, WGL’s meter relocation appears to be of substandard quality and is being performed without adequate notice and communication to residents in the affected neighborhoods.”
OPC is aware of at least one instance in which meter relocation resulted in a gas leak. It is also clear from the information OPC has collected that the meter relocations are being performed without consideration of the aesthetic look of the neighborhoods, particularly in historic districts, and without consideration of homeowners’ access to their property, as entrances have been blocked by construction equipment, for example.
“Prompt action from the Commission is needed to prevent unsafe installation practices, and further degradation of District neighborhoods,” Mattavous-Frye said. “This work must stop until the Commission can establish rules to govern the relocation of meters, as well as ensure WGL develops a communications plan to inform residents of pending construction.”