NARUC and DOE Announce Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization Partnership

Posted: March 8, 2016

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) will join the Department of Energy (DOE) in a three-year technical partnership to learn more about emerging technologies pertaining to the critically important issue of pipeline safety.

Specifically, the partnership will allow NARUC commissioners to participate in technical workshops, DOE lab tours and other important forums and meetings focused on accelerating infrastructure modernization and repair to natural gas distribution pipelines in the United States.

NARUC will also work with federal agencies and an ad hoc technical group to bring together relevant stakeholders to support its efforts to identify new technologies and cost-effective practices for enhancing pipeline safety, reliability, efficiency and deliverability. NARUC will focus its resources to coordinate education and communications to assist State Commissions’ efforts to improve the U.S. natural gas pipeline infrastructure.

“NARUC is deeply committed to this partnership with the DOE,” said NARUC President Travis Kavulla of Montana. “Creating and maintaining a safe natural gas pipeline infrastructure is a national imperative and is of uppermost concern to our State Commissions and to NARUC. Through our resolutions and our gas, pipeline and critical infrastructure committees, we have consistently demonstrated a solid foundation in the critical areas needed to convene States and stakeholders, provide resources and expert staff to lead key initiatives and assimilate complex technical data into documentation that helps States develop solutions.”

“The U.S. Department of Energy welcomes this opportunity to partner with NARUC members and their staff to help advance our shared interests in natural gas infrastructure modernization to increase public safety, improve reliability and reduce leaks. This Partnership is one of several projects that DOE is pursuing as part of our broader Natural Gas Modernization Initiative, first launched in July, 2014,” said Melanie Kenderdine, director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis, U.S. Department of Energy.

"NARUC has always considered pipeline safety a leading priority and in 2013 demonstrated real leadership by prioritizing the issue of accelerating pipeline replacement by passing a resolution calling on commissions to: explore, examine and consider adopting alternative rate mechanisms as necessary to accelerate modernization, replacement and expansion of the nation's gas pipeline systems,” said American Gas Association Vice President of Government Relations Kyle Rogers. “We commend NARUC for its leadership on this critically important issue, which has resulted in the industry replacing cast iron pipe, as well as bare steel, as quickly as possible in a safe and cost-effective manner. We look forward to continuing this progress by working within the framework of the NARUC and DOE collaborative to enhance knowledge of new technologies that will advance safety and reliability."

Recognizing that each State and region has different infrastructure needs, NARUC will serve States as a resource and a facilitator.

“We look forward to hearing from our members how—through this partnership—we can help them respond most effectively to their natural gas pipeline challenges,” added Kavulla. “Working collectively with DOE and other agencies, staff from NARUC’s Research Lab can offer tailored interactive sessions at State sites, lead educational workshops and author policy briefs.”

Chaired by Commissioner Diane X. Burman of New York, membership in the partnership includes the following Commissioner appointments by President Kavulla, which represents state regulatory agencies from across the country:

  • Hon. Stan Wise, Georgia, Chair, Committee on Gas
  • Hon. Paul Roberti, Rhode Island, Chair, Subcommittee on Pipeline Safety
  • Hon. Carolene Mays-Medley, Indiana, Chair, Committee on Critical Infrastructure
  • Hon. Kara Brighton, Wyoming
  • Hon. Swain Whitfield, South Carolina
  • Hon. Julie Fedorchak, North Dakota
  • Hon. Pam Witmer, Pennsylvania

NARUC will also actively engage stakeholders and identify organizations to expand participation in the partnership, to include federal agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as industry such as shale gas operators and developers.

NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. NARUC's member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of State public utility commissions before the three branches of the Federal government. March 7th press release