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Naruc and DoE form US partnership to tackle pipeline safety

Steve Rogerson
March 22, 2016
In the USA, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (Naruc) and the Department of Energy (DoE) have entered a three-year technical partnership to learn more about emerging technologies in pipeline safety.
Specifically, the partnership will allow Naruc commissioners to participate in technical workshops, DoE laboratory tours and other forums and meetings focused on accelerating infrastructure modernisation and repair to natural gas distribution pipelines in the USA.
“Naruc is deeply committed to this partnership with the DoE,” said Naruc president Travis Kavulla. “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.”
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 US natural gas pipeline infrastructure.
“The US Department of Energy welcomes this opportunity to partner with Naruc members and their staff to help advance our shared interests in natural gas infrastructure modernisation to increase public safety, improve reliability and reduce leaks,” said Melanie Kenderdine, director at the DoE. “This partnership is one of several projects that the DoE is pursuing as part of our broader natural gas modernisation initiative, first launched in July 2014.”
Naruc is a non-profit organisation founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty US states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Its member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy and water utilities. It represents the interests of state public utility commissions before the three branches of the federal government.
"Naruc has always considered pipeline safety a leading priority and in 2013 demonstrated real leadership by prioritising 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 modernisation, replacement and expansion of the nation's gas pipeline systems,” said American Gas Association vice president 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."
Recognising 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,” said Kavulla. “Working collectively with the DoE and other agencies, staff from Naruc’s research laboratory can offer tailored interactive sessions at state sites, lead educational workshops and author policy briefs.”