Senators Browne and Boscola Press U.G.I. On Allentown Infrastructure

Harrisburg, May 24, 2012 – State Senators Patrick Browne and Lisa Boscola today called on the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) to force U.G.I. Corporation to speed up work on replacing its aging utility pipelines in Allentown. The text of their letter follows:

May 24, 2012

Dear Commissioners:

As a result of several explosions of natural gas pipelines in their service area, UGI is under investigation by the PUC.  As the Commission considers possible action against the company, and as Senators who represent constituents in the Allentown area, we wanted to make you aware of two concerns we have concerning UGI Corporation.

First, we request that the Commission include a replacement schedule for UGI to replace existing cast iron and bare steel pipeline within the city of Allentown in the next 10 – 15 years.  As you know, UGI Corporation testified before the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee at a hearing on the explosion in Allentown last year.  At that hearing, UGI estimated the replacement of cast iron and bare steel within the city would take 40 years.

For your information, both of our offices have met with a senior UGI official this past February to request that the timeline discussed at the hearing, and continually reported in the press, be shortened.  We were looking to partner with UGI to work to shorten their replacement schedule of cast iron and bare steel in Allentown.  We believed this was the appropriate time to request to the company this timeframe be shortened given the fact that the Legislature just enacted Act 11 which provided for a Distribution System Improvement Charge (DSIC) to assist utilities in the rebuilding of their infrastructure.

Unfortunately, our offices have received nothing from UGI other than misinformation and delay tactics.  Furthermore, it is disheartening for us to see UGI has not even taken the necessary steps to be in a position to file for a DSIC once the process opens in January 2013.  Therefore, we are asking the Commission to utilize the tools given to utilities and the Commission in the form of DSIC and order UGI to either develop a shorter replacement schedule for replacing cast iron and bare steel on their own or the Commission to order a specific replacement schedule for UGI.

Second, while we want and expect the Commission to conduct its review and investigation in a complete and thorough manner, we are asking that the results of the Commission’s findings and any action that may occur be taken soon.  The explosion occurred on February 9, 2011.  It has been more than 15 months since the explosion.  Victims, family members of victims, UGI customers and our community deserve to have the investigation and its findings available to them.  We urge you to continue your good work and bring that investigation to a timely conclusion.

We believe it is apparent that this company has not been very responsive to its customers or the communities it serves.  UGI has had 11 explosions or serious incidents in Pennsylvania since 2001, including four in the Lehigh Valley since 2002.  We are convinced another tragedy will occur if they are not taken to task and required to replace their aging infrastructure at an accelerated pace.  As a public utility, UGI is responsible to provide safe and reliable services and as such, should be more responsive to the communities and customers that they serve. It appears obvious to us the company will not take this action voluntarily.  We ask the Commission to mandate it and hopefully avert another tragedy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

 

LISA M. BOSCOLA                                                             PATRICK M. BROWNE

State Senator –18th District                                                     State Senator –16th District

 

Contacts:

Lesley Darrin (Sen. Browne’s office)
PHONE:     (717) 787-1349

Kurt Derr (Sen. Boscola’s office)
PHONE:     (610) 868-8667