For Immediate Release
Contact:  Matt Schilling
614 | 466 7750

PUCO Ensuring Natural Gas Pipeline Safety in Ohio

COLUMBUS, OHIO (Oct. 24, 2013) – In Ohio, more than three million people use natural gas. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is committed to ensuring the safe, reliable and environmentally sound operation of Ohio's natural gas pipeline system.

The natural gas industry is a complex network of companies that produce, transport and distribute natural gas. The PUCO oversees more than 56,000 miles of distribution lines, which provide natural gas to individual users, as well as more than 10,000 miles of transmission lines.

PUCO investigators inspect each natural gas pipeline system in the state at least once every two years and review records and procedures implemented by utilities. When violations are detected, the PUCO orders corrective action and may assess fines and other penalties to ensure that Ohio’s natural gas pipeline systems continue to deliver natural gas safely and reliably.

What rules and regulations apply to natural gas pipelines?

Natural gas pipeline safety rules are developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The state of Ohio has adopted the federal regulations and the PUCO enforces those regulations through a cooperative agreement with the federal government. Ohio recently extended gas pipeline safety rules to gathering lines used to collect gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale fields that would normally not be subject to federal rules.

What is the general condition of natural gas pipelines in Ohio?

The condition of Ohio's natural gas pipeline network varies by operator. Each operator has the obligation to demonstrate that their piping is in a condition that meets or exceeds the minimum federal safety standards. Most high pressure transmission lines are constructed with protected steel. Lower pressure distribution lines are made from plastic or steel, and older lines may be made from steel, cast iron or copper. Each operator submits an annual report to the PHMSA describing their pipeline network including the type of piping used and number of leaks detected and repaired. This data is available on PHMSA's website here.

Are operators required to replace pipes after they reach a certain age?

The pipeline safety regulations do not specify an age limit for pipelines, but instead rely on performance standards to ensure safety. Among other criteria, pipelines must be protected from corrosion, have adequate wall thickness and be free of dents. Pipeline engineers determine what segments of pipe may be at risk and require further evaluation. The PUCO evaluates this information as part of its inspections.

What extra protections are in place for pipelines running through populated areas?

The pipeline safety regulations require operators to lower the maximum allowable operating pressure of the pipeline, increase the frequency of leak surveys and odorize gas so leaks can be readily detected.

What actions has the PUCO taken to increase natural gas pipeline safety above and beyond the federal pipeline safety regulations?

The PUCO has taken action to have some older piping materials removed and replaced. The PUCO recently required Ohio’s four major natural gas utilities to gradually update old cast iron and bare steel pipelines with more modern protected steel and plastic lines.

Ohio Main Replacement Programs (Cast-Iron/Bare-Steel)

Company

Duke Energy

Columbia Gas

Dominion East Ohio

Vectren

Term of the program

15 years

25 years

25 years

20 years

Current year of program

13

6

6

5

Estimated program cost

$716 million

$1.8 billion

$3.4 billion

$337.5 million

Proposed replacement mileage

1,200

4,153

5,572

708

Miles replaced to date*

1,014

656

622

113

Dollars spent to date *^

$550.5 million

$359.2 million

$447.6 million

$52.7 million

* As of 12/31/2012
^ Dollars include only the cost of main replacements and related service lines

How are new pipelines built? Is there any oversight?

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) certifies certain types of intrastate natural gas transmission pipelines. Additionally information on can be found on www.OPSB.ohio.gov.

To learn more about natural gas pipeline safety in Ohio, contact the PUCO at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) or www.PUCO.ohio.gov

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business, and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe, and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.

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