The chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) on Tuesday asked the state’s local distribution companies (LDC) to survey some of the customer-owned natural gas service lines to ensure they are safe. A recent report by PUCO staff indicated that some of the state’s gas lines may be susceptible to leaks in certain circumstances.

The letter to the LDCs by PUCO Chairman Alan R. Schriber follows a PUCO staff report, which was issued in November, that focused on the results of riser testing conducted by Akron Rubber Development Laboratory Inc. (ARDL). Risers, which are installed by a builder or contractor, connect a building’s natural gas meter to the piping that runs from the building to the gas company’s pipelines. Both the riser and the piping that runs to the gas company pipeline, also called a service line, are owned by the customer.

“The staff report outlines the potential circumstances under which an operating natural gas riser may leak,” Schriber stated. “The study conducted by ARDL provides us with a comprehensive picture of the situation and an indication that an immediate response is necessary. Recognizing that identifying the risers on the natural gas distribution systems could take some time, I am requesting that the natural gas companies start this inventory now so that we have the information we need to thoroughly and expeditiously address this issue.”

PUCO ordered a statewide investigation involving all LDCs in April 2005. The investigation examined the type of risers being installed, the conditions of installation and the overall performance of risers in Ohio.

“In administering the natural gas pipeline safety program for all natural gas distribution companies in Ohio, the PUCO is committed to taking proactive steps to ensure that Ohio’s natural gas pipeline systems deliver natural gas safely and reliably,” Schriber stated. “Our proactive investigation into this riser issue is providing us with information that will ensure an effective process for addressing the issues presented in the reports and help to identify ways to prevent a recurrence.”

Schriber also requested the LDCs to consider assuming responsibility for the customer-owned service lines. Comments on the PUCO staff report are due to the PUCO by Feb. 5. Schriber’s letter and the PUCO staff report are available at www.PUCO.ohio.govunder “Docketing Information System,” case number 05-463-GA-COI.

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