Investing in our Resilient, Reliable and Sustainable Natural Gas Business
Sustainable Natural Gas Pipeline Infrastructure
We are committed to investing in a more modern and resilient network for enhanced safety and environmental performance.
As of December 31, 2021, our Natural Gas business served approximately 4.7 million customers in an eight-state service territory who continue to choose natural gas as their preferred energy source.
CenterPoint Energy is focused on responsibly reducing methane emissions related to our natural gas operations by a significant amount to help achieve our Scope 1 Net Zero goal. Additionally, we are working to help our residential and commercial customers reduce emissions attributable to their use of natural gas as part of our goal to achieve a 20-30% reduction in Scope 3 end-use emissions by 2035. Our approach aligns with the US commitments made at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
Investments for Future State: 2030
- System modernization and improvement
- Legacy steel and plastic pipe replacement
- Mains for new growth and new customers
- Smart metering technology
- Peak shaving and renewable supply
Execution of our strategy in our Natural Gas business will be driven by a more than $16 billion natural gas capital plan, the majority of which is focused on modernizing our distribution system by replacing legacy steel, cast-iron and vintage plastic systems, as well as extending new infrastructure to serve the growing populations in our jurisdictions. Our customer base is expected to grow more than 1% per year through 2030.
In 2021, our natural gas utility performed in the top quartile of Operations and Maintenance costs per customer among our peers, and we continue to be a top five natural gas utility in number of customers and top three in miles of main pipelines.
We anticipate an approximately 33% reduction in methane emissions by 2035 resulting from our pipeline modernization efforts. In Minnesota, we secured passage of our bipartisan Natural Gas Innovation Act in 2021, allowing us to invest in new cleaner energy resources and technologies, including renewable natural gas, green hydrogen and carbon capture, to reduce emissions.
CenterPoint Energy plans to install 3 million Intelis natural gas ultrasonic smart meters for our natural gas distribution system. These innovative meters enhance safety with an internal shutoff valve that automatically activates if excessive gas flow or high temperatures are detected. The automatic shutoff feature also helps protect the environment by reducing methane and carbon dioxide emissions.
Eliminating Cast-iron and Bare Steel Pipe
CenterPoint Energy is in the middle of a plan to replace nearly 2,000 miles of aging pipeline with modern plastic pipeline across our Indiana and Ohio service territory. The plan includes extensive testing and maintenance, infrastructure improvements and metering enhancements. We expect to have all remaining cast-iron pipe in our Indiana and Ohio service territories removed by 2024. Bare steel pipe will be removed by 2025.
Driving a Cleaner Natural Gas System and Reducing Carbon Intensity
- The Natural Gas Innovation Act, a landmark new energy law proposed by CenterPoint Energy, has passed the Minnesota Legislature. The act establishes a new state regulatory policy that creates additional opportunities for a natural gas utility to invest in innovative cleaner energy resources and technologies, including renewable natural gas (RNG), green hydrogen and carbon capture, to benefit our customers.
- Our green hydrogen pilot project in Minnesota that will go online in 2021 will produce renewable hydrogen for blending with our local natural gas supply. The renewable hydrogen will be added in small concentrations to limited, low-pressure sections of our distribution pipeline system.
- In our Natural Gas business, we plan to electrify one-third of our fleet by 2030.
- RNG feed-in tariff projects are under review in Indiana, Minnesota and Texas.
Advanced Metering System
CenterPoint Energy was the first in the nation to deploy state-of-the-art residential gas meters for customer billing.
In 2020, CenterPoint Energy’s Natural Gas Operations began deploying the first residential Itron Intelis meters for customer billing in the nation. These innovative meters enhance safety with an internal shutoff valve that automatically activates if excessive gas flow or high temperatures are detected. The automatic shutoff feature also helps protect the environment by reducing methane and carbon dioxide emissions. The Intelis meter is lighter and smaller than existing meters, which enables more efficient shipping, storage and installation.
The deployment of Intelis meters is part of a project that will help CenterPoint Energy’s future meter shutoff capability through integration with separate methane detection devices. The project will also leverage more of the existing features of Intelis meters as they are integrated into CenterPoint Energy’s electric Advanced Metering System.
Intelis meter safety features and efficiencies:
- Meter reading capability from centralized locations
- Remote shutoffs for enhanced safety
- Alerts to Customer Service for valve shutoffs and potential meter tampering
In 2019, CenterPoint Energy completed the first propane air peak shaving facility in Texas.
Enhancing Natural Gas Reliability During Peak Demand
CenterPoint Energy completed the first propane air peak shaving facility in Texas in 2019. The facility, known as the Bluebonnet Point Reserve, is located in Houston and is used to supplement gas supply to our natural gas distribution system, enhancing reliability for customers during periods of peak demand. The peak shaving facility works by storing liquid propane in 60,000-gallon underground steel tanks. When additional supply is needed to meet peak demand, liquid propane is vaporized, blended with compressed air and injected into our natural gas distribution system at a ratio that is compatible with natural gas appliances, providing a seamless experience for our customers. By November 2022, four more propane peak shaving facilities will be completed, located in strategic locations throughout Houston to further enhance our gas reliability for our customers.