APGA Speaks at Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities Conference

By John Erickson posted 14 days ago

On November 30, APGA Vice President of Operations, John Erickson, spoke at the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities’ Energy Conference in Altoona, Iowa. The conference attracted about 200 municipal utility operators from Iowa to learn about the latest in the energy business. John’s talk focused on the outlook for pipeline safety regulations.

John began by discussing the changes in the regulatory philosophy in Washington resulting from the change in administrations. As a result of executive orders mandating that agencies withdraw two regulations for every new regulation, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has not issued any major regulations in 2017. He noted that the order only applied to regulations deemed “significant” under Office of Management and Budget guidelines, e.g. regulations that would impose costs exceeding $100 million or that would impact a significant number of small entities. Since most public natural gas systems are small entities, the impact on public natural gas could make some rules significant that otherwise might not be impacted. Rules required by Congress in the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 and other legislation are also exempted from the executive order.

John reviewed the status of several rules that have been proposed and gone through various stages of the rulemaking process, including plastic pipe rule changes, operator qualification and the transmission rule. On the latter, John noted that nearly half the public natural gas systems with transmission lines are in Iowa, mostly due to Iowa’s interpretation of the definition of a distribution center. APGA’s comments supported PHMSA’s proposal that would define a distribution center as beginning at the point gas is metered and/or pressure reduced, which would change the classification of most Iowa transmission lines to distribution.

At the end of his presentation John recognized Don Stursma, the recently retired head of the Iowa Utility Board’s pipeline safety division and a good friend of public natural gas. He presented Don with a plaque recognizing the resolution honoring Don, which was passed unanimously by the APGA Board of Directors. For questions on this article, please contact John Erickson of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-0834 or by email at jerickson@apga.org.