Utility Commission fines Peoples Gas $195,000 for 2019 gas leak in Moon

By Jamie Wiggan

Peoples Gas faces a $195,000 civil penalty from a gas leak three years ago that left hundreds of Moon residents without service amid chilly winter temperatures.

Following a lengthy investigation, the Pennsylvania Utility Commission voted this afternoon to pass the joint settlement put together with participation from People’s Gas.

The PUC’s ruling says fault for the leak lies with Peoples Gas, which reportedly installed a temporary meter station “without following any comprehensive specifications and standards.”

According to an incident timeline attached to the ruling, officials first learned of the leak early in the morning of March 9, 2020, when customers called to report a strong gas-like odor. About two hours later, Peoples shut off the system to conduct repairs, but service did not resume in full until the following evening.

The PUC maintains the penalty could have been much larger if the case had been pursued in a civil court.

“Although nobody was injured and property was not damaged, we agree with I&E that serious consequences resulted from the alleged conduct,” the ruling continues. “Indeed, the necessary repairs to the Western Ave TMS and the ensuing natural gas leak required the shut off of natural gas, which impacted nearly one thousand customers who did not receive natural gas service for several hours over two days.”

In addition to the fine, the order also requires Peoples Gas to change its design process to avoid future outages caused by damaged temporary meter stations. It also requires the utility company to provide the commission with a list of all temporary stations currently under operation, and to improve communications with the commission’s enforcement body whenever future incidents occur.

Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Special to the Capital-Star

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