For Release: 12/13/2018

900 miles and counting as Peoples Gas bolsters Chicagoans safety

Milestone equals distance from Chicago to New Orleans

CHICAGO – Peoples Gas announced today it had replaced more than 900 miles of aging cast and ductile iron pipe as part of the company’s System Modernization Program (SMP). The amount of pipe upgraded so far would stretch from Soldier Field to the Superdome.

“We are proud of the hard-working teams that have helped us hit the 900-mile mark,” said Andy Hesselbach, vice president of construction for Peoples Gas. “Executing a project of this magnitude in the third largest city in the United States is a complex challenge that we continue to meet head-on every day.”

The Peoples Gas SMP includes the replacement of aging ductile and cast iron pipe which, in some areas, dates back to before the Civil War.

In light of fatal natural gas pipeline explosions in California, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York and – most recently – Massachusetts, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) held a policy session last month to explore the safety of Illinois’ natural gas distribution systems. The session highlighted the procedures Peoples Gas has in place to keep its aging, low-pressure system safe as well as the numerous long-term safety benefits of the SMP upgrades.

Along with improved safety, the program has produced significant business, labor and environmental benefits. In 2017 alone, businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans performed approximately $100 million of work under the SMP.

The program creates about 2,000 direct jobs during the peak construction season, and the company’s partnership with Utility Workers Local 18007, City Colleges of Chicago and Power4 America has led to the hiring of nearly 400 veterans in the past four years.

Peoples Gas continues to work closely with numerous stakeholders, including the lCC, Illinois Attorney General, Citizen’s Utility Board (CUB) and the City of Chicago to ensure appropriate oversight of the many complex aspects of the program, like cost, engineering and efficiency.

The program is subject to annual cost reviews by the ICC, monthly and quarterly metrics reporting, outside auditor reviews, an outside engineering study, and legislative caps on customer rate impacts.

As part of the SMP, Peoples Gas is upgrading its system from low to medium pressure to improve efficiency. The program also involves moving more than 500,000 meters from inside homes and businesses to the outside, allowing first responders immediate access to shut off gas during emergencies, and adding automatic shut-off valves to increase safety.

To learn more about the SMP or planned neighborhood work, visit

For More Information, Contact:

  • Vanessa Hall
    312-240-4774 (office)
    773-391-1295 (cell)


WEC Energy Group