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Natural Gas January 08, 2019 01:00:05 AM

Regulators Cite MG&E for Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Violations

OilMonster Author
The utility has 45 days to respond with proposed corrections.
Regulators Cite MG&E for Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Violations

SEATTLE (Oil Monster): State inspectors found corroded pipes, missing safety valves and skipped inspections on Madison Gas & Electric’s natural gas network.

A report issued Thursday by the Public Service Commission outlines nine alleged violations of gas safety codes documented in 2018 and a dozen more problems that could lead to future violations.

The utility has 45 days to respond with proposed corrections.

MG&E could be fined $25,000 a day for violations and could face up to $500,000 in fines for each violation if not corrected.

MG&E spokesman Steve Schultz said the utility has addressed or is in the process of addressing the identified problems.

“We work closely with the (PSC) on this report and if there are potential violations identified, we address them,” he said. “In some cases, these annual reports include items self-reported by the utility.”

Natural gas utilities have come under increased public scrutiny in the wake of recent disasters, including a series of home explosions that rocked Massachusetts in September.

Some of the attention has focused on old and decaying cast iron pipes, which are not used by any of Wisconsin’s gas suppliers.

PSC engineers are required to inspect each of the state’s 11 natural gas utilities each year for compliance with state and federal pipeline safety codes.

Among the largest utilities, WE Energies had two probable violations, while its sibling company, Wisconsin Public Service Corp., had five. The PSC has yet to issue 2018 inspection reports for Alliant or Xcel Energy.

MG&E, which had just two safety violations noted in 2017, maintains 2,843 miles of natural gas mains serving 124,457 customers in and around Madison as well as parts of Crawford, Juneau, Monroe and Vernon counties, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA.

The utility reported 21 hazardous main leaks in 2017, of which 18 were caused by excavation damage. One leak was attributed to corrosion and another to equipment failure.

According to a State Journal analysis of PHMSA data from 2017, the last year available, MG&E had 0.7 hazardous leaks per 1,000 miles of pipeline that were caused by faulty equipment or operation, the lowest rate among the six largest natural gas utilities in the state.

Alliant Energy had the highest rate at nearly 2 per 1,000 miles.

Courtesy: www.madison.com

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