NiSource to spend $1.5B on pipeline upgrades

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The parent of Columbia Gas Transmission said Friday it has won federal approval for a plan to spend $300 million a year through 2017 on improvements to its Appalachian pipeline system.

Indiana-based NiSource said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the plan for Columbia Gas Transmission's lines in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Columbia Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Staton said the $1.5 billion investment will help ensure safer, more reliable pipeline infrastructure for customers and the communities across the region.

The plan stems from a consumer settlement that is unrelated to the December explosion of a Columbia transmission line near Sissonville, W.Va., that destroyed several homes but could help prevent similar incidents.

NiSource said it will also spend $100 million on maintenance, and its long-term plan is to invest about $4 billion over 10 to 15 years.

The work includes replacing about 1,000 miles of transmission lines, including 400 in the first five years, and upgrading 50 critical compressor units. Staton said the work also involves improving Columbia's ability to perform state-of-the-art maintenance and inspections without interrupting service.