Modernizing our systems

We take a number of steps to help ensure safe, reliable natural gas service to your home or business:

  • Regularly inspecting natural gas equipment and rights-of-way
  • Replacing aging gas lines and modernizing our system
  • Giving advanced training to emergency responders and our employees
  • Our Gas Control Center operates 24/7 and uses state-of-the-art technology to constantly monitor certain aspects of our gas systems
  • Adding odorant to natural gas to produce a “rotten egg” smell if a leak occurs
  • Reminding everyone to always call 811 before digging in your yard
  • Recording the position of our lines with GPS technology

We also want you to know about automatic shut-off devices, which are an additional safety measure that are installed at certain points throughout our natural gas systems. Automatic shut-off devices are designed to operate like circuit-breakers, so when they sense operating pressure that is too high or too low, they automatically shut off gas flow.

We are continuously working to modernize our natural gas system and provide additional layers of protection. Here’s a quick look at the different locations where these safety devices may be installed:

  • Regulator stations: Strategically placed throughout the system, regulator stations are designed to control and adjust the flow of gas before it reaches the natural gas main line (typically located in or near the street, alley or easement) that serves your neighborhood
  • Service lines: This pipe runs from the main line to the meter that serves your home or business

Excess flow valve notification and safety information

Excess Flow Valves (EFVs) are a type of automatic shut-off device, which are an additional safety measure that may be installed on certain underground service lines running between the natural gas main (typically located in or near the street, alley or easement) and your gas meter.

Federal regulations at 49 C.F.R. §192.383(d) regarding gas pipeline safety requires Columbia Gas of Massachusetts to notify customers of their right to request installation of an Excess Flow Valve (EFV) on their existing gas service line under certain circumstances. An EFV is a mechanical safety device installed inside a gas service line between the gas main in the street and the gas meter. The EFV provides a potential safety benefit - it is designed to automatically minimize or shutoff the flow of gas in the event of a service line break. In the event that an excavator accidentally digs up the gas service line, the valve would operate to automatically minimize or shut off the flow of gas.

If your service line operates at a pressure of less than 10 pounds per square inch gauge throughout the year, the service line is exempt from EFV installation. Customers with loads of 1,000 standard cubic feet of gas per hour (SCFH) or less are eligible for an EFV unless one or more of the following conditions exist: (1) the customer’s service line operates at a pressure of less than 10 pounds per square inch gauge throughout the year; (2) the gas company has prior experience with contaminants in the gas stream that could interfere with the EFV’s operation or cause loss of service to a customer; (3) there is potential for interference with necessary operation or maintenance activities, such as blowing liquids from the line; or (4) an EFV meeting the performance standards set forth in the federal regulations is not commercially available to the gas company.

Conditions and information

EFVs do not operate on all gas service lines and certain parameters may exist where installation of an EFV is not warranted. Many customers already have an EFV installed on their existing service line. If you would like to determine if you are eligible to have an EFV installed on your gas service line, call Columbia Gas of Massachusetts at 1-800-688-6160.

Installation requires Dig Safe notification, a municipal or state street opening permit and excavation where the existing gas service line connects to the gas distribution main. Your gas service will be interrupted during the installation.

Customers may pay a basic installation charge of approximately $4,000. Additional costs may apply based on location-specific installation needs. Installations for eligible customers will be scheduled to align with other upcoming work or as soon as practicable at a mutually agreeable date.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (MDPU) is currently reviewing a request by Columbia Gas to allow the EFV to be installed without a direct charge to the customer. Customer requests for EFV installations will be scheduled to occur after the MDPU’s final decision on payment responsibility in compliance with the MDPU’s decision. In the future, additional costs may be incurred to maintain and/or replace the EFV and those costs may be charged to the customer.

An EFV is an enhanced safety feature in the event that a natural gas service line is damaged by an excavator that digs into an underground pipe. The best way to keep your family, your neighbors and the community safe is to call Dig Safe at 811 at least 3 business days before starting any digging project. 811 is a FREE, one-call service that notifies local utility companies to locate and mark their underground facilities so you can dig safely. Calling 811 can help prevent potential hazards like digging into natural gas pipelines.

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Have an emergency?

If you smell gas, think you have a gas leak, have carbon monoxide symptoms or have some other emergency situation, go outside and call 911 and then our emergency number at 1-800-525-8222.