Are Gas Leaks Affecting Gas Bills?

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Concern about the growing number of gas leaks in Georgetown — at least in east Georgetown above M Street — continued this week and took on a new dimension: Are they causing gas bills to rise?

For the past two weeks, reports about the smell of gas, even in homes that don’t use gas appliances, have multiplied. And so have the size of the Washington Gas crews arriving to inspect and work on the lines.

Edward Segal, a neighbor who has become Georgetown’s gas leak monitor, now counts roughly 40 emergency calls. The gas company continues to insist that it is answering all calls efficiently and that “safety is our number-one priority.”

The elephant in the room, of course, is a potential home explosion, as happened in Massachusetts last month. While there appears to be low or no risk, the “bad news is thatno community can afford to be lulled into a false sense of confidence about the safety oftheir gas pipelines,” Massachusetts gas leak expert Bob Ackley wrote in a report last year about the Georgetown situation.

The new twist is higher gas bills. Gail Daubert and Katherine Tallmadge, who live near 28th and M Streets, have reported that their bills have gone up significantly in the past few months. Daubert’s bills increased from $20 a month to over $150, while Tallmadge reported paying a total of $716.92 for gas in 2015, $620 in 2016, and $3,495.21 in 2017. Yet, like Daubert, her gas usage had not changed much since 2016.

Segal and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Jim Wilcox urge residents to pay extra attention to gas smells and gas bills. Updates to this story are in the pipeline, no doubt.

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