Stop PGW's Meter Madness
Can anything be done to stop the Philadelphia Gas Works from its continued defacement of the city's rowhouses? The city-owned agency, which behaves as if it were a small, oil-rich fiefdom, has decreed that every new rowhouse must install a gas meter the size of a small refinery on its front facade. Why? So it can shut off service for deadbeats without bothering to knock. It makes no sense. PGW is capable of turning off your gas from a computer inside its offices. The exterior meter is just a back-up. But the warty contraptions are a blight that is ruining the architecture of that great traditional form, the 16-foot-wide Philly rowhouse.
PGW's nutty policy has been in effect for years. But it didn't really matter much until new rowhouses started sprouting up by the hundreds. Many of these new projects take up a full block or more, which means you get a gas meter every 15 feet. My April 16, 2004 column on the subject hardly fazed them. Perhaps the Design Advocacy Group will have better luck. They've launched a letter writing campaign to pressure them to relent. But PGW's insistence on maintaining this policy is beginning to remind me of CSX's stubborn stance on the Schuylkill Banks grade crossings. At one meeting with the group's committee, PGW President Thomas Knudson walked out in a huff. He'll have more trouble after he gets a sack-full of protest letters.