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PUC Extends Comment Period On Enhancements To Pipeline Safety Regulations To Sept. 11
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On August 28, the Public Utility Commission announced it is extending the comment period until September 11 on two separate rulemaking proposals related to pipeline operations in Pennsylvania addressing both pipeline safety regulations and periodic financial reporting by pipeline public utilities.

The original deadline was August 28.  The PUC formally published notice in the June 29 PA Bulletin opening the original comment period.

The Commission voted 5-0 on June 13 to seek broad-based public input on an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Order (ANOPR), to help guide discussions about potential changes to Commission safety regulations that would more comprehensively regulate public utilities transporting petroleum products and other hazardous liquids in intrastate commerce.

The Commission also voted 5-0 to seek comment on a separate Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR), which proposes that crude oil, gasoline, and petroleum products transportation pipeline public utilities would be required to file annual depreciation reports, service life study reports, and capital investment plan reports.

The ANOPR related to pipeline safety regulations notes that Pennsylvania has adopted the minimum Federal pipeline safety standards, as part of participation in safety programs administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), but also adds that states may pass more stringent regulations.

The action by the Commission seeks comments on possible amendments and enhancements to Chapter 59 of the Public Utility Commission’s regulations (52 Pa.Code) “to more comprehensively regulate the design, construction, operations and maintenance of public utilities transporting petroleum products and other hazardous liquids under the jurisdiction of the Commission.”

The Commission’s ANOPR offered several possible subject areas that commenters may wish to address, including:

-- Pipeline material and specification.

-- Cover over buried pipelines.

-- Underground clearances.

-- Valves.

-- Pipeline conversion.

-- Construction compliance.

-- Pressure testing and maximum operating pressure.

-- Line markers.

-- Inspections of pipeline rights of way.

-- Emergency flow restricting devices.

-- Leak detection.

-- Corrosion control and cathodic protection.

-- Utility interactions with local government officials.

-- Requirements for periodic public awareness meetings.

-- Pennsylvania specific enhancements to utility public awareness programs.

-- Regulation of construction techniques such as horizontal directional drilling.

-- Accident and incident reporting criteria.

-- Protection of public and private water wells and supplies.

-- Land agents and eminent domain.

-- Background investigations of employees and contractors.

-- Integration of new regulations on existing facilities.

While the Commission offered those subject areas for possible comment, it also emphasized that the scope of comments is not limited to just those areas and concerned parties may wish to raise additional matters.

Written comments referencing Docket No. L-2019-3010267 should be submitted within 60 days of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments may be filed electronically through the Commission’s e-File System or sent to: Public Utility Commission, Attn: Secretary Rosemary Chiavetta, 400 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120.

Financial Reporting

The Commission is also seeking comment on the expansion of existing regulations included in Chapter 73 of the Public Utility Commission’s regulations (52 Pa.Code), which would require periodic depreciation reporting, service life study reporting, and capital investment reporting for public utilities providing pipeline transportation of crude oil, gasoline and petroleum products. Currently, those reporting requirements only apply to electric service, gas service, and water service public utilities.

As noted by the Commission during development of the Chapter 73 regulations, the regular reporting of a public utility’s depreciation practices and capital planning is an important tool in helping to determine whether a public utility is capable (now and in the future) of providing safe, efficient, and adequate service.

The proposed regulations included in NOPR will also be submitted to the Office of Attorney General for review and approval; the Governor’s Budget Office for review for fiscal impact; the Independent Regulatory Review Commission for review and comment; and the Legislative Standing Committees.

Written comments referencing Docket No. L-2019-3010267 should be submitted within 60 days of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments may be filed electronically through the Commission’s e-File System or sent to: Public Utility Commission, Attn: Secretary Rosemary Chiavetta, 400 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120.

Read the entire PA Bulletin notice for more information.

Questions about this proposal should be directed to Colin W. Scott at 717-787-5949 or send email to: colinscott@pa.gov; Hayley E. Dunn at 717-214-9594 or send email to:  haydunn@pa.gov;  or  Erin N. Tate at 717-214-1956 or send email to: etate@pa.gov in the PUC’s Law Bureau.

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[Posted: August 28, 2019]


9/2/2019

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