The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) unanimously agreed Thursday to create a statewide registry for all nonpublic utility and hazardous liquids pipelines, to assess operators for the costs, and for its inspectors to begin enforcing federal pipeline safety laws on most classifications of pipeline.

The 5-0 vote is the PUC's first step toward implementing Act 127 -- also known as the Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipeline Act -- which was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett on Dec. 22 (see Shale Daily, Feb. 2; Dec. 19, 2011). Act 127 empowers the PUC to be the "state agent" for the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in Pennsylvania.

The PUC said the registration fee for its new registry will be $250, and the deadline to register is March 16. The commission said it will mail assessments for the 2011-2012 fiscal year (FY) by March 30, with a due date of April 30. FY2012-2013 assessments will be mailed in July and will be due within 30 days. A website has been established to assist operators.

"Once we create the registry, it will give us an idea of how many miles of pipeline we're talking about," PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher told NGI's Shale Daily on Thursday. "The legislation also provides for [our] ability to inspect Classes II, III and IV of the pipelines, so we'll begin looking and getting the records that we'll need to fulfill that portion of our obligation."

Act 127 only gives the PUC the same oversight as PHMSA, so Class I gathering lines will not be included in the new registry. A bill to include those pipelines, SB 325, was referred to the state House Consumer Affairs Committee last April (see Shale Daily, April 8, 2011).