MPSC Chairman: Major Efforts Under Way to Improve Michigan's Pipeline Safety

Contact:  Judy Palnau, 517-241-3323
Agency:  Michigan Public Service Commission  


June 5, 2013 - Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) Chairman John D. Quackenbush today highlighted the actions the Commission has taken over the past few years to significantly improve pipeline safety in Michigan, noting that the state's three largest natural gas utilities have accelerated gas main replacement programs (MRPs) under way.


"The Michigan Public Service Commission has acted to address the need to replace an aging pipeline infrastructure across the state," Quackenbush said at the annual meeting of the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives' Central Region on Mackinac Island. "The Commission has approved programs at Michigan's three largest natural gas utilities that will accelerate the replacement of bare steel and cast iron pipe. We take very seriously our obligation to assure safe and reliable utility service and believe these kinds of programs are of critical importance to achieve this."


In May 2013, the Commission approved an expanded main replacement program proposed by SEMCO Energy Gas Company that will double the amount spent annually on the program and double the miles of main replaced annually. Coupled with its existing program, SEMCO will replace 40.6 miles of high-risk main annually.  This will allow SEMCO to accelerate the installation of excess flow valves at the homes of its customers, helping to protect customers in case of a service line leak.


In April 2013, the Commission approved an expanded MRP for DTE Gas Company, formerly known as Michigan Consolidated Gas Company. The utility will expand its MRP from 30 to 66 miles of main replacement per year; and continue its meter move-out program and its pipeline integrity program designed to comply with state and federal safety standards. To fund these programs, the MPSC approved an infrastructure mechanism.  These approvals will permit the utility to accelerate the replacement or retirement of those pipelines most likely to endanger public safety.


In June 2012, the Commission approved a settlement in a Consumers Energy gas rate case that will fund a main replacement program at $56 million annually until the program is reviewed and spending is reset by the Commission in the utility's currently pending general rate case proceeding.


In addition, Chairman Quackenbush noted the MPSC has promoted 811/MISS DIG education that stresses the importance of following safe digging practices and submitted an outline of a state pipeline remediation program to demonstrate to the federal government Michigan's capabilities related to replacement programs.


The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.


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