Keeping the safety of Florida’s natural gas infrastructure a priority, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved a new Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program (GRIP) for Florida Public Utilities Company (FPUC) - Fort Meade, and approved recovery costs for existing FPUC and Florida Division of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation GRIP programs. People’s Gas System’s (Peoples) Cast Iron/Bare Steel Pipe Replacement Rider (Rider) program recovery charges were also approved today.
“Bare steel pipeline replacement programs improve the safety and reliability of Florida’s natural gas infrastructure,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham. “I commend these utilities for the success of these programs and for their proactive approach and commitment to protecting customers and their property.”
The existing GRIP and Rider programs, approved in 2012, allow utilities to recover costs for accelerated replacement and modernization of natural gas pipelines. FPUC acquired the Fort Meade system in December 2013 and filed for PSC approval of a GRIP program for the system in September. With an aggressive replacement schedule, the company anticipates it will take two years to complete the Fort Meade project. Fort Meade serves 650 natural gas customers in Polk County.
Effective January 1, 2016, the new monthly GRIP surcharge is $5.50 for an FPUC residential customer using 20 therms a month, and $1.71 for a Chesapeake residential customer. The monthly Rider surcharge is $0.43 for a Peoples’ residential customer using 20 therms. Fort Meade surcharges are deferred until January 2017.
Cast iron is subject to corrosion which may lead to cracking if exposed to mechanical pressures such as excavation or heavy road traffic. Pitting can occur in unprotected bare steel distribution pipes, reducing the pipeline’s structural integrity. As a safety measure, the U.S. Department of Transportation has urged natural gas utilities to replace these older facilities.
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