The Florida Public Service Commission today approved a $3 million settlement agreement between its staff, the Office of Public Counsel (OPC), and Peoples Gas System (PGS) to resolve violations of various natural gas safety rules and regulations.
“Compliance with gas safety rules and regulations is of paramount importance to this Commission. It is imperative that PGS complies with all regulations affecting the safety of customers, employees, and the general public,” said PSC Chairman Julie Brown. “With today’s approved settlement, PGS will implement a comprehensive compliance plan that we will oversee, keeping safety a top priority.”
The settlement requires PGS to pay a $1 million penalty (for deposit into Florida’s General Revenue Fund) and issue a one-time, nonrecurring $2 million customer credit through a reduction of the 2017 monthly surcharges from the company’s Cast Iron/Bare Steel Replacement Rider.
First identified by the PSC’s Bureau of Safety, numerous PGS safety and compliance deficiencies were confirmed by a 2013 PSC audit. While some PGS compliance progress occurred, a follow-up 2015 PSC audit found continued deficiencies, and possible Commission enforcement actions were discussed. Based on the PSC audits, OPC–Florida’s consumer advocate–filed a “show cause petition” with the Commission in December 2015.
Commissioners approved the settlement after questioning PGS representatives about corrective actions taken and their commitment to rectify any alleged violations. PGS will also conduct extensive employee training, ensure employee inspection compliance; improve internal control processes, and conduct extensive document compliance as part of the settlement.
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