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Legislative Update:  Pennsylvania’s New Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act – Act 127 of 2011

(January 13, 2012)

On December 22, 2011, Governor Corbett signed into law Pennsylvania’s new Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act, Act 127 of 2011 (“Act 127”). 

Act 127, which takes effect on February 20, 2012, expands the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (“PUC”) authority to investigate and enforce Federal pipeline safety laws in connection with the operation of gas and hazardous pipeline equipment and facilities within the Commonwealth.  Act 127 also imposes new registration and reporting requirements on pipeline operators and mandates the payment of annual assessments by these operators.  Under the Act, “gas” and “hazardous liquids” are defined to include natural gas, liquefied natural gas, landfill gas, synthetic natural gas, petroleum, petroleum products, anhydrous ammonia, and other gas or hazardous liquid materials classified as such in accordance with Federal pipeline safety laws. 

Act 127 does not give the PUC jurisdiction over any pipeline operator for purposes of rates or ratemaking or any other matters except those expressly set forth in the Act.  It also does not grant the PUC any power to determine the status of or regulate a pipeline operator as a public utility, or as a natural gas supplier or natural gas supply service, under the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code. 

PUC Tentative Implementation Order

On January 12, 2012, the PUC issued a Tentative Implementation Order (“Order”) at Docket M-2012-2282031, addressing its Act 127 initiatives and inviting interested parties to submit comments in response to the Order.  Comments are due by February 1, 2012.  Among other things, the Order directs each pipeline operator, upon the issuance of a Final Implementation Order, to file an Initial Registration Form by March 16, 2012, and to pay its 2011-12 annual assessment, as computed by the PUC’s Fiscal Office and invoiced on March 30, 2012, on or before April 30, 2012.

The PUC will also host a Teleconference at 9 A.M. on January 26, 2012 to provide guidance regarding the PUC’s plan for implementing the registration and assessment requirements as mandated under Act 127.

Additional information on the PUC’s Act 127 implementation efforts is available on the PUC’s website.

 

For more information about Act 127 or to discuss its application and the PUC’s Act 127 initiatives and implementation efforts, please contact Charles E. Thomas, Jr. (717.255.7615; cthomasjr@tntlawfirm.com), Thomas T. Niesen (717.255.7641; tniesen@tntlawfirm.com), or Norman J. Kennard (717.255.7627 or nkennard@tntlawfirm.com).

 

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