In the October 14 Federal Register, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule mandating installation of excess flow valves (EFV) on new and replaced service lines to multifamily residential and small commercial customers. The rule takes effect April 14, 2017. APGA has reviewed the final rule and finds that PHMSA has addressed most of the concerns raised in APGA’s written comments on the July 15, 2015 proposed rule and the recommendations of PHMSA’s technical advisory committee from its December 17, 2015 conference call.
Utilities will be required to install an EFV on new and replaced service lines to multifamily residential and commercial customers if the meter capacity on the service line is 1,000 cubic feet per hour (cfh) or less. A manually-operated curb valve must be installed if the meter capacity on the service exceeds 1,000 cfh. An EFV is not required if a service line does not operate at a pressure of 10 psig or greater throughout the year; the operator has prior experience with contaminants in the gas stream that could interfere with the EFV’s operation or cause loss of service to a customer or could interfere with necessary operation or maintenance activities, such as blowing liquids from the line.
The rule will also require utilities to provide written or electronic notification to customers of their right to request the installation of an EFV. Electronic notification can include emails, website postings, and e-billing notices. Written notice can include bill stuffers. The notification must include an explanation of the potential safety benefits that may be derived from installing an EFV and a description of EFV installation and replacement costs. If a customer requests to have an EFV installed, the utility must install an EFV at a mutually agreeable date.
APGA is pleased that PHMSA elected to limit EFVs to services of 1,000 cfh or less. There is little experience with larger EFVs, however PHMSA did adopt APGA’s recommendation that if a utility elects to install an EFV on a service line over 1,000 cfh it should not also have to install a curb valve. PHMSA also removed wording in the proposed rule that mandated that curb valves be accessible to emergency responders. Some members train and equip emergency responders to close curb valves but many members do not allow anyone but utility personnel to operate underground valves. The final rule allows each utility to determine who is authorized to operate curb valves installed under this rule.
The rule will take effect 60 days after it appears in the Federal Register, meaning utilities have until mid-April 2017 to begin installing EFVs and curb valves and notifying existing customers about the availability of EFVs. Members should begin planning now to modify procedures to begin installing these larger EFVs and curb valves on affected service lines. The requirements of the rule and how members will comply will be addressed in a presentation followed by two parallel breakout sessions at the APGA Operations Conference in Chattanooga, Tenn., this November 8-10. The APGA Operations and Safety Committee has also formed a task group to develop sample EFV customer notification notices that members can consider when developing their own notifications.
A copy of the rule can be found here.
A sample EFV customer notification can be found here.
For questions on this article, please contact John Erickson of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-0834 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.