In This Issue

Pennsylvania PUC Seeks Comments on Oversight of Natural Gas Distribution Systems

Docket No. M-2011-2271982

On November 10, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued for comment proposed procedures that will enhance the safety of the state’s natural gas distribution systems. These new procedures would require gas utilities to file plans outlining how much aging underground pipelines leak and when the utilities intend to replace them, and to require leak surveys during winter months. Comments are to be filed by December 2, 2011. The proposed pipeline replacement and performance plans apply to companies having annual intrastate operating revenues over $40 million.

The proposal calls for the utilities to file Pipeline Replacement and Performance Plans with the PUC for review. The proposal says the plans are to include replacement timeframes and performance metrics that include damage prevention, corrosion control and distribution system leaks. Under the proposal, plans would be submitted in spring/summer 2012 with final approval to follow in late 2012/early 2013.

The PUC action also requires the utilities to provide distribution integrity management program plans, which are required by the federal government, with the PUC by November 30, 2011.

As part of its proposed regulations, the PUC also plans to mandate “frost surveys” (leak surveys) that utilities perform during cold weather months. The regulation would require frost surveys from November 1 to April 30 each year. Previously, the PUC asked, but hadn’t mandated, frost surveys. The leak surveys are to be conducted weekly or monthly, depending on the location and size of the line. The utilities are required to report to the PUC all leaks on a biweekly basis and provide a schedule for repairing all reported leaks.

The PUC’s action is in response to the changing scope of federal gas safety regulations, the continuing pipeline development resulting from Marcellus Shale and recent tragic incidents.

For a copy of the proposed rulemaking, contact Jessica Roger