Today the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) took a significant step toward ensuring the future safety and reliability of the state’s natural gas pipeline system. An order was issued that sets the stage for gas utilities to accelerate the replacement of obsolete and aging infrastructure.
In concluding an intensive general investigation, the Commission determined it is in the public interest for gas companies to accelerate the replacement of unprotected bare steel mains, unprotected bare steel service/yard lines and cast iron mains, all of which are prone to corrosion. To assist utilities in their acceleration efforts, the Commission will institute an Accelerated Replacement Program (ARP), initially as a four year pilot program. Commissioners attached a number of conditions to the program to ensure utility accountability and reasonable costs to consumers.
To participate in the ARP, utilities must submit a detailed ten-year replacement plan to be approved by the Commission. The annual surcharge to residential customers has been capped at $.40 per month to maintain rate stability. Utilities will also be required to file an annual progress report.
On the recommendation of Commission staff, the Commission opened the general investigation on March 12, 2015 to study the current state of the natural gas pipeline system and determine if existing utility replacement activity was sufficient or an accelerated program was needed. The three gas companies under the KCC’s jurisdiction; Kansas Gas Service, Atmos Energy, and Black Hills Energy participated in the investigation as well as the Citizens Utility Ratepayer Board (CURB).