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Press Release

PUC Seeks Comments on Procedures Designed to Enhance Oversight of Natural Gas Distribution Systems

Published on 11/10/2011

Filed under: Electric Gas

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued for comment proposed procedures that will enhance safety of the state’s natural gas distribution systems.

“These plans will tentatively be required to include infrastructure replacement time frames and a proposal for the means by which the cost of the infrastructure replacement program should be addressed in rates,” PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson and Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Jr. said in a statement. “While the commission is currently only seeking to have natural gas utilities file such plans, we wish to put Pennsylvania’s electric distribution companies on notice that we anticipate developing a similar requirement for the electric industry in the near future.”

The Commission voted 5-0 to seek comments on proposed pipeline replacement and performance plans and to require leak surveys during winter months. Comments are to be filed by Dec. 2, 2011. The proposed pipeline replacement and performance plans apply to companies having annual intrastate operating revenues over $40 million.

The Commission’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.  All these factors highlight the need for the Commission to establish a new framework for natural gas and hazardous liquids safety.

The proposal calls for the utilities to file Pipeline Replacement and Performance Plans with the Commission 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 Commission action also requires the utilities to provide distribution integrity management program plans, which are required by the federal government, with the PUC by Nov. 30, 2011.

Also, the PUC annually requests that natural gas utilities perform frost patrols, which are leak surveys that utilities perform when the ground begins to freeze. In today’s action, the Commission made the surveys a requirement starting November 1 of each year and ending April 30.

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 Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

For recent news releases, audio of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at

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Docket No. M-2011-2271982







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