Utilities present winter preparedness plans to Arizona Corp. Commission

Based on predictions for a mild winter, Arizona’s gas utilities and pipeline companies presented winter preparedness plans featuring lower gas bill estimates at the Arizona Corp. Commission’s annual workshop this week in Phoenix.

The yearly event ensures that utilities and pipelines are properly supplied, with emergency contingency plans in place to guarantee reliable service in case of extreme weather. Six companies — Southwest Gas, UNS Gas, Alliant Gas, Questar, Transwestern Pipeline, and Kinder Morgan — submitted their plans.

“These are important presentations … that impact everyone in the state,” Chairman Susan Bitter Smith said. “It is critical that these companies are prepared to safely and efficiently deliver the gas to customers and are ready to communicate effectively with their customers in emergencies.”

Estimates of lower monthly utility bills were based on meteorological predictions of a mild season. Southwest Gas indicated that the average monthly bill this year will likely hover around $55.89, as compared to last year ‘s $61.82. A representative of UNS, serving Northern Arizona, noted that a customer credit was recently approved for additional savings.

Emergency plans include use of social media campaigns and arrangements for on-site emergency team deployment in the case of outages. While each utility or pipeline outfit convenes for regular meetings internally, Corporation Commission Safety Division personnel are often involved. 

According to Questar, the number one cause of line emergencies is third-party hits. The companies work in tandem with the Commission to publicize its “811 Program” to help locate critical underground utilities lines prior to digging to avoid any hits that could cause outages and injuries.

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