PUCO orders Ohio Rural Natural Gas Co-op to cease operations following repeated safety violations
COLUMBUS, OHIO (Jan. 18, 2017) – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today issued an opinion and order finding that Ohio Rural Natural Gas Co-op (ORNG) is in violation of intrastate natural gas pipeline safety rules. The PUCO ordered ORNG to cease operations for a portion of its system at the Duck Creek Road and Ellsworth Road facilities, and to cease all operations on March 1, 2017 after working to transition customers to alternative service.
“Safety is the utmost priority for the PUCO,” said PUCO Chairman Asim Z. Haque. “Shutting down the pipelines and requiring ORNG to remedy the situation is the appropriate course of action.”
The PUCO staff investigation revealed that ORNG’s facilities are operated in a manner that may be hazardous to life and property, and that ORNG lacks the knowledge, expertise and management to safely operate a natural gas pipeline. Additionally, PUCO staff notes that ORNG has been a consistent violator of PUCO regulations for the entirety of its operational history, accruing 37 violations over the course of 14 months.
ORNG services approximately 70 natural gas customers in Northeastern Ohio. While considering it is winter-heating season, the Commission set a shut off deadline of March 1, 2017, and ordered ORNG to work with the PUCO to assist customers in acquiring alternative service. ORNG is ordered to cease all operations, including connecting new customers, until it can demonstrate compliance with the law and organizational knowledge of gas pipeline regulations.
The Commission directed ORNG to reach out directly to its customers within seven days of today’s opinion and order. Customers with questions or concerns can contact the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-7826.
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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