Friday, February 16, 2024

PUC Now Accepting Comments On $250,000 Penalty Settlement With Peoples Gas On Natural Gas Over-Pressurization Incident In Indiana County

Public Utility Commission published notice in the February 17 PA Bulletin seeking public comments concerning events that resulted in the over-pressurization of the Peoples Natural Gas distribution system serving the community of Robinson, Indiana County, that caused a wide range of damage to utility and customer equipment.

The Commission voted 5-0 to publish the proposed settlement in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, which will mark the start of a 25-day public comment period, after receiving additional specific financial information from Peoples Natural Gas and the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement (I&E) related to the incident – clearly and publicly detailing the cost of replacing private property that was damaged.

Full instructions for submitting public comment will be provided when the proposed settlement is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

A copy of the Commission’s order and the proposed settlement are also being provided to the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate and Pennsylvania Office of Small Business Advocate for their consideration and comment.

The Commission will carefully review all comments received before issuing a final decision on this case.

Robinson Over-Pressurization Incident, Proposed Settlement

The case concerns an event that occurred on April 29, 2020, involving the over-pressurization of the Peoples Natural Gas distribution system serving Robinson, which occurred as technicians from the utility were conducting an annual inspection on the regulator for that system.

As a result of this incident, Peoples Natural Gas replaced 11 furnaces, 70 water heaters, one range, 194 furnace valves, and 135 water tank valves.

They also replaced approximately 4,552 feet of steel pipe and 133 service lines and conducted daily leak surveys for eight weeks until all leaking service lines were replaced.

According to the settlement, I&E noted that technicians failed to follow company procedure; that training materials provided by Peoples Natural Gas were not sufficiently detailed to ensure that employees were qualified; and that the design of the regulator station likely contributed to the incident.

The settlement calls for Peoples Natural Gas to pay a $250,000 civil penalty, which will not be recovered during any future rate case.

Also, supplemental financial information submitted by the utility notes that the cost of replacing private property damaged during this incident was $305,206.10, which will not be recovered in any future rate case.

Additionally, the utility shall review all regulator stations in its distribution system within 30 days of the Commission’s final approval of the settlement; prioritize regulator station improvement projects based on a risk model; and make a series of procedural and training improvements intended to reduce the likelihood of future incidents.

For documents related to this case, visit PUC Docket No.:  M-2023-3024990.

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- PA Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Feb. 10 to 16 - 31 More Conventional Abandoned Well NOVs - 103 For Year; Pipeline Land Slips; Water Supply, Stray Gas Complaints  [PaEN] 

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices, Opportunities To Comment - February 17 [PaEN]

-- DEP Approves PennEnergy Resources 1.5 Million Gallon/Day Water Withdrawal For Shale Gas Drilling From Big Sewickley Creek In Beaver County  [PaEN]  

-- DEP Sets March 20 Hearing [If Requested] On Air Quality Permit Change For The Eastern Gas Transmission Punxsutawney Compressor Station In Jefferson County  [PaEN]

-- DEP Invites Comments On Mariner East II Natural Gas Liquids Pipeline Chapter 102 Permit Amendment For An Area In West Goshen Twp., Chester County  [PaEN] 

-- DEP Invites Comments On MarkWest Project To Expose 4 Natural Gas Pipelines For 5,500+ Feet Ahead Of Longwall Mining In Donegal Twp., Washington County  [PaEN] 

-- Public Comments Invited On State Air Quality Plan Amendment For PEI Power Corp Natural Gas-fired Power Plant In Lackawanna County  [PaEN]

-- PUC Invites Comments On Williams Natural Gas Pipeline Co. Proposal To Construct 2 Solar Energy Facilities To Provide Electricity To Compressor Stations In Columbia, Wyoming Counties  [PaEN] 

-- DEP Posted 109 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In February 17 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]  

-- PUC Now Accepting Comments On $250,000 Penalty Settlement With Peoples Gas On Natural Gas Over-Pressurization Incident In Indiana County  [PaEN] 

-- PUC Public Hearings In Early March For Proposed $156 Million Peoples Natural Gas Rate Increase 

Related Articles - Gas:

-- DEP Approves PennEnergy Resources 1.5 Million Gallon/Day Water Withdrawal For Shale Gas Drilling From Big Sewickley Creek In Beaver County; Citizens Group Opposes DEP Decision  [PaEN]  

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission March 14 Meeting On Rulemakings, Water Withdrawal Requests, Including 8 Related To Shale Gas Development; And On Cooperative Fish Nursery General Permit  [PaEN] 

-- PA Taxpayers To Give $130.9 Million In Tax Credits To Subsidize Shell Petrochemical Plant In Beaver County; Total Expected To Be $1.17 Billion Thru 2042; No Regard For Environmental Compliance Record  [PaEN]

-- Ohio River Basin Alliance, National Wildlife Federation Report Identifies Community Concerns, Priorities For Local Waters In Ohio River Watershed [Road-Dumping Drilling Wastewater]  [PaEN] 

-- Marcellus Drilling News: National Fuel Gas Lawsuit Alleges Fraud, Counterfeit Parts Used At Natural Gas Compressor Stations  [PaEN]

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-- Penn State Extension March 14 Webinar On Oil & Gas Wastewater Management - Project PARETO  [PaEN]

NewsClips - Gas:

-- TribLive: Beaver County Man Sues Shell Petrochemical Plant, Claims Plant Spews Pollution 

-- The Energy Age Blog: Resident Files Lawsuit Against Shell Petrochemical Plant, Claims Plant Spews Pollution

-- Beaver County Times: Shell CEO Puts Beaver County Petrochemical Plant Price Tag At $14 Billion

-- Post-Gazette - Anya Litvak: A Political Battle Brews Over Natural Gas Exports Over Impacts To Gas Prices, Climate, Demand For Gas

-- Reuters: European Union Says Biden’s Pause On Approvals Of New LNG Natural Gas Export Facilities Will Have No Effect On US LNG Supplies To Europe Over Next 2 or 3 Years  [LNG Exports Are Expected To Double By 2030 On Already-Approved Projects] 

-- TribLive Guest Essay: A Fossil Fuel Export Economy Is Wrong For America - By Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen

-- Utility Dive: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission OKs Cold Weather Reliability Standards [Driven In Large Part By Natural Gas Infrastructure Failures In 2021]

-- Reuters: US Regulators To Review Power System Performance During Recent Winter Storms

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: Pittsburgh-Based EQT Could Curtail Some Natural Gas Production As Gas Prices Fade

-- Reuters: Pittsburgh-Based EQT Drilling Misses Profit Estimates On Lower Natural Gas Prices

-- Reuters: US Natural Gas Drillers Cut Spending, Reduce Activity Amid Price Crash

-- Natural Gas Intelligence: Global Natural Gas Prices Continue Freefall Amid Weak Demand, Warm Weather

-- PUC Public Hearings In Early March For Proposed $156 Million Peoples Natural Gas Rate Increase 

-- Post-Gazette - Anya Litvak: Peoples’ Gas Proposed 7.6% to 21.4% Rate Hikes Will Get Their Time In The Court Of Public Opinion Next Month

-- TribLive Guest Essay: Record Oil And Gas Production Means Energy And Economic Security - By Independent Petroleum Association Of America

-- Yale360 - Jon Hurdle: How A Legal Clean Air Law Loophole Allows Natural Gas Leaks To Keep Flowing  [Aggregation Of Air Emissions Issue]  

-- Marcellus Drilling News: Is Coterra Energy Headed For Buyout And Split As Forbes Article Speculates? 

-- Post-Gazette - Anya Litvak: Carbon Dioxide Storage Hub Landmen Seek 80,000 Acres Across Western PA, Ohio, WV 

-- Marcellus Drilling News: NAPE Speakers Say Carbon Capture & Sequestration A Risky Business

-- Williamsport Sun Guest Essay: Carbon Capture And Storage Can Keep Rural Economies Strong - By Erick Coolidge, Fmr Tioga County Commissioner

-- The Energy Age Blog: Dangerous Workplaces - US Drilling, Fracking Operations - 1,566 Workers Have Died In US

-- Financial Times: Geologists Signal Start Of Hydrogen Energy ‘Gold Rush’

[Posted: February 16, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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