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Natural Gas and Propane Safety 

 

The MPUC regulates natural gas service reliability and ensures compliance with safety standards for 937 miles of natural gas distribution mains, 27,693 services, and 29 miles of intra-state transmission pipelines, including two private pipelines, located throughout Maine (as of December 31, 2013). In addition, the MPUC enforces safety standards for over 700 propane gas distribution facilities that deliver propane service to multi-unit housing complexes, commercial buildings and other facilities where propane system failures would likely impact large numbers of people.

 

The MPUC derives its authority for safety oversight from both state and federal laws. Chapters 420 and 421 of the Commission’s Rules adopt federal safety regulations for pipelines that transport hazardous gases to protect the public and govern the safe operation of distribution and intrastate transmission facilities within the State.  The MPUC is a certified agent for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA).  In this role, the MPUC ensures that intrastate natural gas transmission and distribution systems are in compliance with federal pipeline safety standards and corresponding state regulations through operator inspections. Link to PHMSA’s Inspection page. The MPUC performs investigations of natural gas safety incidents and pursues enforcement actions. Link to PHMSA's State Incident page

 

The following facilities fall under the MPUC's safety jurisdiction:

 

  • Intrastate natural gas transmission pipelines;
  • Natural gas distribution systems;
  • Utility operated liquefied natural gas facilities; and
  • Propane distribution facilities falling under the jurisdiction of 49 CFR 192.1.

 

Maps of the intrastate natural gas transmission pipelines under the safety jurisdiction of the MPUC may be found at National Pipeline Mapping System

 

Natural gas utilities must receive the MPUC's authorization to construct and operate intrastate pipelines.  The MPUC's review of these projects primarily involves an engineering review of the utility's construction plans to ensure that the pipeline will conform to all American Standard Code of Pressure and Piping standards to ensure that pipeline is constructed and operated safely.  The MPUC does not review and approve siting and routing plans from an environmental standpoint, this review is conducted by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection http://www.maine.gov/dep or the Maine Land Use Planning Commission http://www.maine.gov/dacf/lupc/index.shtml, and local municipal government.

 

Four natural gas utilities currently operate in Maine: Unitil, d//b/a Northern Utilities; Maine Natural Gas; Bangor Gas, and Summit Natural Gas.  Information for these utilities can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/natural_gas/distributors.html .

 

The MPUC does not enforce safety regulations for interstate natural gas pipelines or hazardous liquid pipelines, those facilities are directly under the safety jurisdiction of PHMSA

 

The MPUC's Gas Safety Program staff are:

 

Gary Kenny, Program Manager

gary.kenny@maine.gov

207-287-1364

 

Nathan Dore, Inspector

nathan.dore@maine.gov

207-287-1375

 

Sean Watson, Inspector

sean.watson@maine.gov

207-287-1082

 

Tammy Chamberlain, Safety Programs Coordinator

Tammy.chamberlain@maine.gov

207-287-6075

 

 

The files below are posted in Adobe Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Word. Adobe Reader files require the free Adobe Reader software. Microsoft Word files require either Microsoft Word or the free Word Viewer software.

If you need assistance or an alternate format, please contact the Public Information Coordinator at maine.puc@maine.gov or (207) 287-6141.