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Gas storage safety in federal regulators' crosshairs; Mich. officials criticize Enbridge pipe data

Federalenergy regulators on April 1 announced plans to develop new regulations andstronger oversight of the nation's natural gas storage systems.

Inlight of Southern California GasCo.'s multimonth Aliso Canyon gas storage leak, the U.S. Departmentof Energy and the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administrationannounced a task force to determine how to improve system safety and preventsimilar incidents.

Stillsmarting from a major oil pipeline leak in 2010, Michigan officials have askedEnbridge Inc. toprovide more accessible, up-to-date data on a pipeline that runs under thewaterway connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

The datarequest acknowledged that Enbridge had already supplied some information onLine 5 — a petroleumand natural gas liquids systemthat branches into two parallel 20-inch-diameter lines under the Straits ofMackinac — but said that a lot of that data was presented in read-only format, "severelylimiting its usefulness," the state officials said in a letter to Enbridge.

TheU.S. EPA is working toward a legally unassailable framework for regulating oiland gas industry methane emissions from existing sources, Administrator Gina McCarthy said March30.

Theagency's industry emissions information collection request — announced earlierthis month — is a material step forward in that process, McCarthy toldattendees at the Global Methane Forum in Washington, D.C.

Industrygroups have asked the federal pipeline safety regulator to give them two moremonths to come up with comments on the agency's sweeping new rule for gas transmissionlines.

Thesix groups — the American Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute,the American Public Gas Association, the Gas Processors Association, theInterstate Natural Gas Association of America and the Independent PetroleumAssociation of America — said they will need extra time to review the549-page notice ofproposed rulemaking.

TheIndiana Utility Regulatory Commission on March 30 reapproved most of subsidiary VectrenEnergy Delivery of Indiana's gas infrastructure modernization projects,representing $890 million in investments supported by recovery mechanisms.

Thisis the third update of Vectren's original seven-year plan approved in 2014,according to the Form 8-K filed March 31. The pipeline replacement and systemintegrity maintenance work would be carried out by utilities Vectren EnergyDelivery of Indiana - North and Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana - South.

said that itssubsidiary PSNC Energy on March 31 filed a request with the North CarolinaUtilities Commission for a general increase of about $41.6 million, orapproximately 9.7%, in annual revenue, for operation and expansion costsrecovery, according to the company's news release.

PSNCneeds to recover costs to operate and expand its pipeline system, implement anintegrity management rider, and establish a deferral mechanism for distributionintegrity management operations and maintenance expenses. The averageyear-round residential customer would see a monthly increase of approximately$3.41, upon the request's approval.