This act applies to intrastate pipelines and gathering lines. While it does not specifically focus on emissions, the bill outlines a natural gas leak classification system and a priority repair system. There are three classifications of gas leaks described in the bill:
- Grade 1 is a leak that represents an “existing or probable hazard to persons or property” and requires repair as “immediately as possible and continuous action” until it is deemed no longer dangerous. The responsible gas company shall “immediately” schedule repairs to completion and continuously monitor the leak until eliminated.
- Grade 2 leaks are defined as “non-hazardous to persons or property at the time of detection” but must still be assigned a repair schedule within 12 months from its classification to prevent a “probable future hazard.” They are to be re-evaluated every 6 months until they are fully repaired.
- Grade 3 leaks are recognized as “non-hazardous to persons or property at the time of detection” and are expected to stay that way. The gas company is mandated to re-evaluate Gas 3 leaks within 12 months from the last time it was evaluated until the leak is eliminated or the main is replaced.
Any discovery of Grade 1, Grade 2, or Grade 3 leaks must be reported to the Department of Public Utilities with their location and dates of repair. Further, gas companies must submit annual reports detailing the number of leaks, estimates for lost and unaccounted natural gas and methane emissions as a result of the leaks, and the time and cost estimates for eliminating the leaks.
To address aging or leaking natural gas infrastructure, and in the interest of public safety and reducing natural gas loss, gas companies may file a Gas System Enhancement Plan with the department. The plan is required to include: prioritized eligible infrastructure for replacement; an anticipated timeline for removing leak-prone infrastructure; estimated costs; rate change requests; and a description of customer costs and benefits. After filing the initial plan, the gas company must provide a summary of progress to date and its next five-year work plan every five years. If the plan is preliminary accepted in whole or in part by the department, the gas company can begin recovering the estimated costs of projects included in the plan from May 1 of the following year. The gas company is required to report project information and costs to demonstrate compliance each year on or before May 1.