Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is inspecting nearly 300 miles of natural gas pipeline in 2015 to proactively seek and repair imperfections that could compromise the integrity of those lines and potentially affect their operation.
“Providing reliable, safe energy for our customers is our top priority,” said Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy’s vice president of energy delivery. “Pipeline inspections are a key component of our comprehensive natural gas integrity program designed to keep customers and the general public safe.”
Palkovich noted that Consumers Energy will spend approximately $3 million in 2015 to perform 14 pipeline inspections throughout Lower Michigan, and has budgeted $27 million to address any issues found during the inspections.
The company uses specialized contractors to perform pipeline integrity tests and related analysis. Pipeline sections to be inspected are first cleaned internally using a specialized tool to remove dirt, oil, water and other debris. A second tool is used to identify restrictions inside the pipeline that could prevent the passage of inspection tools. Additional specialized tools are then inserted into the pipeline and travel through the pipe recording important data about its condition. The tests can identify dents, cracks, pipe defects, corrosion and other conditions within the pipeline. Depending on the data analysis, the pipeline may be repaired as needed.
Other aspects of the company’s comprehensive pipeline integrity program include:
- Using low-voltage electric current on pipes to reduce or eliminate corrosion.
- Conducting annual ground and aerial surveys to check transmission pipelines.
- Continuously monitoring a gas control computer system that alerts employees to any abnormal pressures or flows in the gas system, allowing the company to respond quickly to any emergency.
- Responding to more than 350,000 MISS DIG/8-1-1 requests each year to mark gas pipelines so safe digging can proceed.
Federal requirements dictate that natural gas transmission lines – located in high population areas – be inspected every seven years. Consumers Energy’s program exceeds this requirement by inspecting additional pipeline miles that are not required by federal guidelines. The Michigan Public Service Commission also audits the company regarding its integrity plan and other related efforts.
Consumers Energy operates more than 29,000 miles of transmission and distribution pipelines throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, serving more than 1.7 million natural gas customers, making it one of the largest gas distribution companies in the U.S.
For more information on natural gas pipeline safety, follow the linked text to Consumers Energy’s website.Tags: Consumers Energy, Michigan, pigging, pipeline inspection