Presentation on theme: "Report to TACIR on Underground Utility Damage Prevention in Tennessee"— Presentation transcript:
1 Report to TACIR on Underground Utility Damage Prevention in Tennessee Tennessee Regulatory Authority
2 OutlineWhat is underground utility damage and how does current law address utility damage prevention in Tennessee?Why is this issue important?Why is the TRA involved?Have other states implemented reforms and how are they working?What reforms are needed in Tennessee to comply with Federal guidelines?
3 Damage Prevention Enforcement Gas Pipeline OperatorsViolations and Fines are assessed by TRA$10,000 per violation per day up to $500,000ATMOS Energy – $12,000Athens Utility Board – $15,000Mt Pleasant Gas – $76,396Memphis Light Gas and Water - $3,000Gibson County Utility District - $184,000
4 Damage Prevention Enforcement All other utility owners and/or excavatorsViolations and Fines assessed by local policeMaximum $2,500, 48 hrs in jail, or both.
5 Why important? Disruption of utility services to customers Increase utility costsPublic safetyCurrent law problemsInconsistent enforcementNot uniformly appliedLack of public education efforts on law to stakeholder groupsNo advisory group to help enforce law (stakeholder involvement lacking)
6 Why TRA Involved? Promote public utility safety Existing jurisdiction (Gas Pipeline Safety Program)Comptroller’s Audit Report 2007Pressure from U.S. Department of TransportationCongressional action (PIPES Act 2006)
7 Federal Certification Application for states to enforce Federal RegulationsMust adopt Federal RegulationsMust have essentially same authorityMust encourage and promote programs to prevent damage to pipeline facilities.Cooperate with Federal monitoring
8 Federal Monitoring Results Yearly Scores20049820051002006200798.5200899
9 Inspection TotalsMinimum requirement of 420 inspection Days Per Year
10 Funding 40-50% Federal funding 50-60% Inspection fee State Damage Prevention Program Grant~$150,000 in past 2 years
11 Training Mandatory Federal Training Industry training and meetings 7 – Week-long ClassesPipeline Failure Investigation Techniques CourseOptional ClassesLNG, IMP, OQIndustry training and meetings
12 Expertise Education Federal Categorization 6 Graduate Engineers 2 Licensed Professional Engineers in the State of TennesseeFederal Categorization4 Category I2 Category III
13 Tennessee Regulatory Authority Performance Audit (August 2007) Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Recommendation:The General Assembly may wish to consider increasing the civil penalties for gas pipeline safety violations to levels that are substantially the same as federal levels. Such a revision could encourage increased compliance with pipeline safety standards and could also help ensure that Tennessee receives the maximum federal funding available from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
14 Federal Evaluation Results “Dear Mr. Borum …Improvements are needed to Tennessee’s underground facilities damage prevention laws to incorporate the best practices described in the published Common Ground Alliance Study.”U.S. Department of TransportationPipeline and Hazardous Material Safety AdministrationJuly 22, 2007
15 Federal Evaluation Results “Dear Mr. Borum …Excavation damage continues to be the single greatest cause of underground pipeline failures. The PIPES Act encourages states to oversee damage prevention law non-compliance enforcement.”U.S. Department of TransportationPipeline and Hazardous Material Safety AdministrationAugust 22, 2008
16 Federal Evaluation Results “Dear Director Hargett …The PIPES Act raises the 50 % cap on Federal funding of states pipeline safety programs to 80%. Establishing or actions taken to establish an effective Damage Prevention Program will likely be one of the key factors in achieving funding above the 50% level”U.S. Department of TransportationPipeline and Hazardous Material Safety AdministrationAugust 28, 2008
17 Federal Evaluation Results “Dear Commissioner Roberson, I am writing to enlist your support for a vital initiative to improve all underground utilities within your state. We are advocating an excavation damage prevention program to protect all pipelines as well as telecommunications water and sewer and other vital lifelines on which your citizens depend. Construction related damages is an all too frequent threat to our safety and the continuity of services we need to live and work ”U.S. Department of TransportationPipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration
18 Has Reform Worked in Other States? Virginia Law§ (1995)Approximate 55% decrease in damages since inception.Georgia Law§ (2000)“The new enforcement program has been successful and the stakeholder group has aided the PSC in driving down underground utility damages.” Georgia PSC Commissioner
19 Essential Components of Reform Element 1 – More utilities become a part of One CallElement 2 – Establish a stakeholder groupElement 6 – Establish a dispute resolution process by the StateElement 7 -- Empower a state agency with enforcement power with sufficient penalties to ensure consistent and fair enforcement of state law