Code Section Group

Public Utilities Code - PUC

DIVISION 1. REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES [201 - 3260]

  ( Division 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

PART 1. PUBLIC UTILITIES ACT [201 - 2120]

  ( Part 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

CHAPTER 4.5. Gas Pipeline Safety [950 - 978]

  ( Chapter 4.5 added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 520, Sec. 1. )

ARTICLE 2. Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 2011 [955 - 972]
  ( Article 2 added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 520, Sec. 1. )

955.
  

(a) This article shall be known and may be cited as the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 2011.

(b) The commission is the state authority responsible for regulating and enforcing intrastate gas pipeline transportation and pipeline facilities pursuant to Chapter 601 (commencing with Section 60101) of Subtitle VIII of Title 49 of the United States Code, including the development, submission, and administration of a state pipeline safety program certification for natural gas pipelines pursuant to Section 60105 of that chapter.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 520, Sec. 1. (SB 44) Effective January 1, 2012.)

955.5.
  

(a) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) “Gas pipeline” means an intrastate distribution line as described in paragraph (1) of, or an intrastate transmission line as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 950.

(2) “Hospital” means a licensed general acute care hospital as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code.

(3) “School” means a public or private preschool, elementary, or secondary school.

(b) A gas corporation shall provide not less than three working days’ notice to the administration of a school or hospital prior to undertaking nonemergency excavation or construction of a gas pipeline, excluding any work that only uses hand tools, pneumatic hand tools, or vacuum technology for the purpose of marking and locating a subsurface installation pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 4216) of Chapter 3.1 of Division 5 of Title 1 of the Government Code, if the work is located within 500 feet of the school or hospital. The notification shall include all of the following:

(1) The name, address, telephone number, and emergency contact information for the gas corporation.

(2) The specific location of the gas pipeline where the excavation or construction will be performed.

(3) The date and time the excavation or construction is to be conducted and when the work is expected to be completed.

(4) An invitation and a telephone number to call for further information on what the school or hospital should do in the event of a leak.

(c) The gas corporation shall maintain a record of the date and time of any notification provided to the administration of a school or hospital prior to undertaking nonemergency excavation or construction of a gas pipeline and any subsequent contacts with the administration of a school or hospital relative to the excavation or construction and the actions taken, if any, in response to those subsequent contacts. The gas corporation shall maintain these records and make them available for inspection for no less than five years from the date of the notification.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 561, Sec. 215. (AB 1516) Effective January 1, 2018.)

956.
  

(a) On or before July 1, 2012, the commission shall open an appropriate proceeding or expand the scope of an existing proceeding to establish compatible emergency response standards that owners or operators of commission-regulated gas pipeline facilities shall be required to follow for intrastate transmission and distribution lines. The commission shall establish the standards to ensure that intrastate transmission and distribution lines have emergency response plans that adequately prepare them for a natural disaster or malfunction that could cause injury to human life or property, with the purpose of minimizing the occurrence of both.

(b) The commission shall establish the compatible emergency response standards in consultation with the California Emergency Management Agency, the State Fire Marshal, and members of California’s first responder community including, but not limited to, members of the California Fire Chiefs Association.

(c) The compatible emergency response standards shall require owners or operators of intrastate transmission and distribution lines to implement emergency response plans that are compatible with the United States Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s regulations concerning emergency plans contained in Section 192.615 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and those plans shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following requirements:

(1) Emergency shutdown and pressure reduction shall be utilized whenever deemed necessary and appropriate by the owners or operators to minimize hazards to life or property. An owner or operator shall notify appropriate first responders of emergency shutdown and pressure reduction.

(2) During an emergency response effort, the incident commander may direct coordination between first responders and owners or operators to ensure timely and ongoing communication on decisions for emergency shutdown and pressure reduction.

(3) Owners or operators of intrastate transmission and distribution lines shall establish and maintain liaison with appropriate fire, police, and other public officials to do all of the following:

(A) Learn the responsibility and resources of each government organization that may respond to a gas pipeline emergency, including, but not limited to, the role of the incident commander in an emergency.

(B) Acquaint the officials with the owner’s or operator’s ability in responding to a gas pipeline emergency.

(C) Identify the types of gas pipeline emergencies of which the owner or operator notifies the officials.

(D) Plan how the owner or operator and officials can engage in mutual assistance to minimize hazards to life or property.

(E) Identify and update information on individual personnel responsible for the liaison with the appropriate first responder organizations.

(4) Owners and operators of intrastate transmission lines shall provide the State Fire Marshal and the chief fire official of the applicable city, county, city and county, or fire protection district with instructions on how to access and utilize the National Pipeline Mapping System developed by the United States Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, utilizing data submitted pursuant to Section 60132 of Title 49 of the United States Code, to improve local response capabilities for pipeline emergencies.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 842, Sec. 39. (SB 1222) Effective January 1, 2017.)

956.5.
  

Owners and operators of intrastate transmission and distribution lines, at least once each calendar year, shall meet with each local fire department having fire suppression responsibilities in the area where those lines are located to discuss and review contingency plans for emergencies involving the intrastate transmission and distribution lines within the jurisdiction of the local fire department.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 519, Sec. 1. (AB 56) Effective January 1, 2012.)

957.
  

(a) (1) Unless the commission determines that it is prohibited from doing so by subdivision (c) of Section 60104 of Title 49 of the United States Code, the commission shall require the installation of automatic shutoff or remote controlled sectionalized block valves on both of the following facilities, if it determines those valves are necessary for the protection of the public:

(A) Intrastate transmission lines that are located in a high consequence area.

(B) Intrastate transmission lines that traverse an active seismic earthquake fault.

(2) Each owner or operator of a commission-regulated gas pipeline facility that is an intrastate transmission line shall provide the commission with a valve location plan, along with any recommendations for valve locations. The commission may make modifications to the valve location plan or provide for variations from any location requirements adopted by the commission pursuant to this section that it deems necessary or appropriate and consistent with protection of the public.

(3) The commission shall additionally establish action timelines, adopt standards for how to prioritize installation of automatic shutoff or remote controlled sectionalized block valves pursuant to paragraph (1), ensure that remote and automatic shutoff valves are installed as quickly as is reasonably possible, and establish ongoing procedures for monitoring progress in achieving the requirements of this section.

(b) The commission shall authorize recovery in rates for all reasonably incurred costs incurred for implementation of the requirements of this section.

(c) The commission, in consultation with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the United States Department of Transportation, shall adopt and enforce compatible safety standards for commission-regulated gas pipeline facilities that the commission determines should be adopted to implement the requirements of this section.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 521, Sec. 1. (SB 216) Effective January 1, 2012.)

958.
  

(a) Each gas corporation shall prepare and submit to the commission a proposed comprehensive pressure testing implementation plan for all intrastate transmission lines to either pressure test those lines or to replace all segments of intrastate transmission lines that were not pressure tested or that lack sufficient details related to performance of pressure testing. The comprehensive pressure testing implementation plan shall provide for testing or replacing all intrastate transmission lines as soon as practicable. The comprehensive pressure testing implementation plan shall set forth criteria on which pipeline segments were identified for replacement instead of pressure testing.

(b) The comprehensive pressure testing implementation plan shall include a timeline for completion that is as soon as practicable, and includes interim safety enhancement measures, including increased patrols and leak surveys, pressure reductions, prioritization of pressure testing for critical pipelines that must run at or near maximum allowable operating pressure values that result in hoop stress levels at or above 30 percent of specified minimum yield stress, and any other measure that the commission determines will enhance public safety during the implementation period. Engineering-based assumptions may be used to determine maximum allowable operating pressure in the absence of complete records, but only as an interim measure until such time as all the lines have been tested or replaced, in order to allow the gas system to continue to operate.

(c) At the completion of the implementation period, all California natural gas intrastate transmission line segments shall meet all of the following:

(1) Have been pressure tested.

(2) Have traceable, verifiable, and complete records readily available.

(3) Where warranted, be capable of accommodating in-line inspection devices.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 519, Sec. 3. (AB 56) Effective January 1, 2012.)

958.5.
  

(a) Twice a year, or as determined by the commission, each gas corporation shall file with the division of the commission responsible for utility safety a gas transmission and storage safety report. The division of the commission responsible for utility safety shall review the reports to monitor each gas corporation’s storage and pipeline-related activities to assess whether the projects that have been identified as high risk are being carried out, and to track whether the gas corporation is spending its allocated funds on these storage and pipeline-related safety, reliability, and integrity activities for which they have received approval from the commission.

(b) The gas transmission and storage safety report shall include a thorough description and explanation of the strategic planning and decisionmaking approach used to determine and rank the gas storage projects, intrastate transmission line safety, integrity, and reliability, operation and maintenance activities, and inspections of its intrastate transmission lines. If there has been no change in the gas corporation’s approach for determining and ranking which projects and activities are prioritized since the previous gas transmission and storage safety report, the subsequent report may reference the immediately preceding report.

(c) If the division of the commission responsible for utility safety determines that there is a deficiency in a gas corporation’s prioritization or administration of the storage or pipeline capital projects or operation and maintenance activities, the division shall bring the problems to the commission’s immediate attention.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 842, Sec. 40. (SB 1222) Effective January 1, 2017.)

959.
  

Each gas corporation shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the commission, in its general rate case proceeding, that the requested revenue requirements will be sufficient to enable the gas corporation to fund those projects and activities necessary to maintain safe and reliable service and to meet federal and state safety requirements applicable to its gas plant, in a cost-effective manner.

(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 626, Sec. 35. (SB 901) Effective January 1, 2019.)

960.
  

(a) When the federal National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) submits a safety recommendation letter concerning gas pipeline safety to the commission, the commission shall provide the NTSB with a formal written response to each recommendation not later than 90 days after receiving the letter. The response shall state one of the following:

(1) The commission’s intent to implement the recommendations in full, with a proposed timetable for implementation of the recommendations.

(2) The commission’s intent to implement part of the recommendations, with a proposed timetable for implementation of those recommendations, and detailed reasons for the commission’s refusal to implement those recommendations that the commission does not intend to implement.

(3) The commission’s refusal to implement the recommendations, with detailed reasons for the commission’s refusal to implement the recommendations.

(b) If the NTSB issues a safety recommendation letter concerning any commission-regulated gas pipeline facility to the United States Department of Transportation, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a gas corporation, or the commission, or the PHMSA issues an advisory bulletin concerning any commission-regulated gas pipeline facility, the commission shall determine if implementation of the recommendation or advisory is appropriate. The basis for the commission’s determination shall be detailed in writing and shall be approved by a majority vote of the commission.

(c) If the commission determines that a safety recommendation made by the NTSB is appropriate or that action concerning an advisory bulletin is necessary, the commission shall issue orders or adopt rules to implement the safety recommendation or advisory as soon as practicable. In implementing the safety recommendation or advisory, the commission shall consider whether a more effective, or equally effective and less costly, alternative exists to address the safety issue that the recommendation or advisory addresses.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 612, Sec. 56. (SB 697) Effective January 1, 2016.)

961.
  

(a) For purposes of this section, “gas corporation workforce” means the employees of a gas corporation and employees of an independent contractor of the gas corporation while working under contract with the gas corporation.

(b) (1) Each gas corporation shall develop a plan for the safe and reliable operation of its commission-regulated gas pipeline facility that implements the policy of paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 963, subject to approval, modification, and adequate funding by the commission.

(2) By December 31, 2012, the commission shall review and accept, modify, or reject the plan for each gas corporation as part of a proceeding that includes a hearing. The commission shall build into any approved plan sufficient flexibility to redirect activities to respond to safety requirements.

(3) Each gas corporation shall implement its approved plan.

(4) The commission shall require each gas corporation to periodically review and update the plan, and the commission shall review and accept, modify, or reject an updated plan at regular intervals thereafter. The commission, pursuant to Section 1701.1, shall determine whether a proceeding on a proposed update to a plan requires a hearing, consistent with subdivision (e).

(c) The plan developed, approved, and implemented pursuant to subdivision (b) shall be consistent with best practices in the gas industry and with federal pipeline safety statutes as set forth in Chapter 601 (commencing with Section 60101) of Subtitle VIII of Title 49 of the United States Code and the regulations adopted by the United States Department of Transportation pursuant to those statutes.

(d) The plan developed, approved, and implemented pursuant to subdivision (b) shall set forth how the gas corporation will implement the policy established in paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 963 and achieve each of the following:

(1) Identify and minimize hazards and systemic risks in order to minimize accidents, explosions, fires, and dangerous conditions, and protect the public and the gas corporation workforce.

(2) Identify the safety-related systems that will be deployed to minimize hazards, including adequate documentation of the commission-regulated gas pipeline facility history and capability.

(3) Provide adequate storage and transportation capacity to reliably and safely deliver gas to all customers consistent with rules authorized by the commission governing core and noncore reliability and curtailment, including provisions for expansion, replacement, preventive maintenance, and reactive maintenance and repair of its commission-regulated gas pipeline facility.

(4) Provide for effective patrol and inspection of the commission-regulated gas pipeline facility to detect leaks and other compromised facility conditions and to effect timely repairs.

(5) Provide for appropriate and effective system controls, with respect to both equipment and personnel procedures, to limit the damage from accidents, explosions, fires, and dangerous conditions.

(6) Provide timely response to customer and employee reports of leaks and other hazardous conditions and emergency events, including disconnection, reconnection, and pilot-lighting procedures.

(7) Include appropriate protocols for determining maximum allowable operating pressures on relevant pipeline segments, including all necessary documentation affecting the calculation of maximum allowable operating pressures.

(8) Prepare for, or minimize damage from, and respond to, earthquakes and other major events.

(9) Meet or exceed the minimum standards for safe design, construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of gas transmission and distribution facilities prescribed by regulations issued by the United States Department of Transportation in Part 192 (commencing with Section 192.1) of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(10) Ensure an adequately sized, qualified, and properly trained gas corporation workforce to carry out the plan.

(11) Any additional matter that the commission determines should be included in the plan.

(e) The commission and gas corporation shall provide opportunities for meaningful, substantial, and ongoing participation by the gas corporation workforce in the development and implementation of the plan, with the objective of developing an industrywide culture of safety that will minimize accidents, explosions, fires, and dangerous conditions for the protection of the public and the gas corporation workforce.

(f) Nothing in this section limits the obligation of a gas corporation to provide adequate service and facilities for the convenience of the public and its employees pursuant to Section 451 or the authority of the commission to enforce that obligation under state law.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 522, Sec. 1. (SB 705) Effective January 1, 2012.)

963.
  

(a) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) “After-meter services” includes, but is not limited to, leak investigation, inspecting customer piping and appliances, carbon monoxide investigation, pilot relighting, and high bill investigation.

(2) “Basic gas service” includes transmission, storage for reliability of service, and distribution of natural gas, purchasing natural gas on behalf of a customer, revenue cycle services, and after-meter services.

(3) “Metering services” includes, but is not limited to, gas meter installation, meter maintenance, meter testing, collecting and processing consumption data, and all related services associated with the meter.

(4) “Revenue cycle services” means metering services, billing the customer, collection, and related customer services.

(b) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(1) In order to ensure that all core customers of a gas corporation continue to receive safe basic gas service, each existing gas corporation shall continue to provide this essential service.

(2) A customer shall not be required to pay separate fees for utilizing services that protect public or customer safety.

(3) It is the policy of the state that the commission and each gas corporation place safety of the public and gas corporation employees as the top priority. The commission shall take all reasonable and appropriate actions necessary to carry out the safety priority policy of this paragraph consistent with the principle of just and reasonable cost-based rates.

(c) (1) The commission shall require each gas corporation to provide bundled basic gas service to all core customers in its service territory unless the customer chooses or contracts to have natural gas purchased and supplied by another entity.

(2) A gas corporation shall continue to be the exclusive provider of revenue cycle services to all customers in its service territory, except that an entity purchasing and supplying natural gas under the commission’s existing core aggregation program may perform billing and collection services for its customers under the same terms as currently authorized by the commission, and except that a supplier of natural gas to noncore customers may perform billing and collection for natural gas supply for its customers.

(3) The gas corporation shall continue to calculate its charges for services provided by that corporation. If the commission establishes credits to be provided by the gas corporation to core aggregation or noncore customers who obtain billing or collection services from entities other than the gas corporation, the credit shall be equal to the billing and collection services costs actually avoided by the gas corporation.

(4) The commission shall require the distribution rate to continue to include after-meter services and shall authorize sufficient revenues and employee staffing to provide for prompt provision of these services to the public, consistent with the policy developed and implemented by the gas corporation and approved by the commission pursuant to Section 961.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 522, Sec. 2. (SB 705) Effective January 1, 2012.)

969.
  

In any ratemaking proceeding in which the commission authorizes a gas corporation to recover expenses for the gas corporation’s transmission pipeline integrity management program established pursuant to Subpart O (commencing with Section 192.901) of Part 192 of Title 49 of the United States Code or related capital expenditures for the maintenance and repair of transmission pipelines, the commission shall require the gas corporation to establish and maintain a balancing account for the recovery of those expenses. Any unspent moneys in the balancing account in the form of an accumulated account balance at the end of each rate case cycle, plus interest, shall be returned to ratepayers through a true-up filing. Nothing in this section is intended to interfere with the commission’s discretion to establish a two-way balancing account.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 523, Sec. 1. (SB 879) Effective January 1, 2012.)

970.
  

(a) The commission shall perform an analysis of benchmark data and adopt safety performance metrics for pipeline safety.

(b) The commission shall consider the following principles when adopting safety performance metrics:

(1) Each safety performance metric shall be designed to be an indicator of safety performance.

(2) Each safety performance metric shall be designed so that it may be reevaluated within a useful timeframe.

(3) Each safety performance metric shall be designed so that the data inputs to the metric are verifiable.

(4) The adopted set of safety performance metrics shall be robust enough to serve as a useful indicator of pipeline safety.

(c) The commission shall evaluate a gas corporation’s safety performance using the safety performance metrics adopted pursuant to subdivision (a) and may implement a rate incentive program. The rate incentive program may contain penalties based on safety performance.

(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 469, Sec. 2. (AB 1456) Effective January 1, 2013.)

972.
  

(a) A penalty assessed against a gas corporation pursuant to this part in regards to a natural gas storage facility leak shall at least equal the amount necessary to reduce the impact on the climate from greenhouse gases by an amount equivalent to the impact on the climate from the greenhouse gases emitted by the leak from the natural gas storage facility, as determined by the State Air Resources Board. In determining the amount necessary to fully offset the impact on the climate from the gases emitted by the leak, the commission shall consider the extent to which the gas corporation has mitigated, or is in the process of mitigating, the impact on the climate from greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the leak.

(b) This section shall not affect or be interpreted to affect the authority of the State Air Resources Board to adopt rules and regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at natural gas storage facilities or to require mitigation of natural gas leaks from those facilities.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 814, Sec. 1. (SB 801) Effective January 1, 2018.)

PUCPublic Utilities Code - PUC