Wednesday, July 15, 2015

PHMSA Publishes Excess Flow Valve NPRM

Today the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register (80 FR 41460-41472) expanding the use of excess flow valves (EFV) on natural gas pipelines beyond that current required in 49 CFR Part 19.

An advance notice of proposed rulemaking was published in November 2011. Nineteen public responses were received in response to that ANPRM. This rulemaking is at least partially in response to a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); Safety Recommendation P-01-002.

In today’s NPRM PHMSA is proposing to amend §192.381 and §192.383 and add a new §192.385 to expand the use of EFV beyond the currently required lines to single family residences (SFR) to include new or replaced branched service lines servicing SFRs, multi-family residences, and small commercial entities consuming gas volumes not exceeding 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet per Hour (SCFH).

Section 192.381 Changes

In this section PHMSA is simply removing the words ‘single family residence’ from §192.381(a). This would have the effect of opening the EFV performance standards to to EFVs installed on all "service lines that operate continuously throughout the year at a pressure not less than 10 p.s.i. (69 kPa) gage”.

Section 192.383 Changes

In this section expands the installation requirement for EFVs. Paragraph (b) would be revised to include the following in the list of new or replaced lines on which EFVs would have to be installed:

A single service line to one SFR;
A branched service line to a SFR installed concurrently with the primary SFR service line (i.e., a single EFV may be installed to protect both service lines);
A branched service line to a SFR installed off a previously installed SFR service line that does not contain an EFV;
Multi-family residences with known customer loads not exceeding 1,000 SCFH per service, at time of service installation based on installed meter capacity, andShow citation box
A single, small commercial customer served by a single service line with a known customer load not exceeding 1,000 SCFH, at the time of meter installation, based on installed meter capacity.

The exceptions to this requirement currently listed in §192.383(b) are being moved without change to a new §192.383(c).

A new §192.383(d) would add provisions for a customer’s right to request the installation of an EFV on an existing line that does not exceed 1,000 SCFH {but does not fall under the mandate of paragraph (b)}. Since PHMSA does not have the authority to set pipeline rates, they simply note that “appropriate State regulatory agency determines whom and/or how the costs of the requested EFVs are distributed”.

New paragraphs (e) and (f) establish the requirements for pipeline operators to notify their customers of their rights under paragraph (d).

And finally the current paragraph (c) is moved to paragraph (g) without changes.

New §193.385

Because EFV’s are not really effective at flow rates above 1,000 SCFH, PHMSA is adding this new section to require the installation of a manual shutoff valve “located near the service main or a common source of supply that is accessible to first responders and operator personnel to manually shut off gas flow to the service line in the event of an emergency” {§193.385(a)}.

These manual shutoff valves would be required “on any new or replaced service line, with installed meter capacity exceeding 1,000 SCFH” {§193.385(b)} and would have to “be installed in such a way to allow accessibility during emergencies” {§193.385(c)}.

Public Comments

PHMSA is soliciting public comments on this NPRM. Comments may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (; Docket # PHMSA-2011-0009). Comments need to be submitted by September 14th, 2015.

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