D.C. Public Service Commissioner Says Controversial Pipeline Plan is Not "Just and Reasonable or Otherwise in the Public Interest"

In Split Decision, the D.C. PSC Nonetheless Votes to Extend Washington Gas's "Project Pipes" Plan That Has Been Widely Criticized by D.C. Councilmembers, Ratepayers, DOEE, and others.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – D.C. Public Service Commissioner Richard Beverly on Friday echoed an avalanche of recent criticism of Canadian-owned Washington Gas by saying the company’s plan to replace District gas pipes was not “just and reasonable or otherwise in the public interest.” Beverly voted against the order that saw two other commissioners – Ted Trabue and Emile Thompson  – vote yes to move forward for another year on a plan that has been called wasteful, poorly managed, and harmful to the environment.

In his robust dissent, Commissioner Beverly channeled the comments of hundreds of D.C. residents, environmental groups, and consumer advocates. Citing a recent report commissioned by the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), Beverly reiterated that normal pipe maintenance – based on actively leaking pipes, rather than possible future leaks  – was being subsumed by the costly Project Pipes program. He also noted that the costs per mile of pipe replaced have skyrocketed since the beginning of Project Pipes in 2014. 

In another nod towards the surge of advocacy on the issue, Commissioner Beverly listed the names of over 100 D.C. residents who submitted comments to the PSC opposing Washington Gas’s most recent request. He concluded by pushing back on Washington Gas’s misleading claims about greenhouse gasses (GHG) saying, “I have not seen evidence that the cumulative avoided GHG emissions from this program represent a meaningful reduction in WGL’s overall footprint, nor that the GHG reduction is cost-effective.”

Friday’s 2-to-1 PSC decision granted Washington Gas a $50 million, one-year extension to the second phase of Project Pipes. Critics of the program cite exorbitant costs, misalignment with D.C.’s climate commitments, and ongoing hazardous leaks in their calls for the PSC to cancel the entire program – including the next phase, Project Pipes 3.

Despite facing glaring evidence of negligent drops in routine maintenance and skyrocketing costs, the Commission deferred to Washington Gas’s position on the matter, admitting that “while we recognize that the Project Pipes program requires adjustment, we are not prepared at this time to stop the pipe replacement work being accomplished through Project Pipes.” 

“The PSC must be held accountable for this damaging vote to continue funding a wasteful program,” said Naomi Cohen-Shields, D.C. Campaign Manager for CCAN Action Fund. “If anything, this decision will amplify further scrutiny and opposition to Washington Gas’s greedy and reckless spending of D.C. ratepayer money. We will continue to fight for a livable future for D.C. residents; we will continue to fight to Stop Project Pipes.”

On Wednesday, February 28 at 9:00 AM advocates will gather on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building for a press conference to respond to recent developments regarding ‘Project Pipes,’ ahead of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development hearing regarding oversight of the Public Service Commission.


The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) Action Fund is dedicated to driving change in public policies at the local, state and national level to address the climate crisis. Through voter education, lobbying, and participation in the electoral process, we seek to advance our country’s leadership in the global movement towards clean energy solutions — focusing our efforts primarily in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.